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AM PRES BR1 .P58 v.l 
Biblical repertory. 
















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9 


9 

iuwart;s> 

UPON A 

NEW TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. 

fyc. 8fc. 


(Concluded from page 391.) 


CHAP. VL 

Uniformity of sense in Scripture preserved by tradition. Vow¬ 
els and accents applied to the text in conformity with the 
traditional readings. Cappellus supposes these readings to 
have been preserved by the use of the matres lectionis before 
the invention of vowels. Version of Jlquila conformable 

with the Masoretical text , as well with respect to vowels as 
to consonants. Various vowel readings of the Septuagint , 
contrasted with those of Jlquila. Singular reading of the 
Septuagint Isaiah ix. 6. Theodotio? s Version less conform¬ 

able with the Masoretical text , than Jlquila? s. Masoretical 
readings genuine. No other edition of the Hebrew text ex¬ 
tant. Griesbach? s mode of detecting different editions. Ma¬ 
soretical text long anterior to the date of our most ancient 
MSS. incontrovertibly more than thirteen centuries old. 
Marks the distinction of words and supplies correct pauses. 
J1 similar copy of the New Testament , if of high antiqui¬ 
ty , would be greatly valued. 

AdmittIng then, that the Bible was originally written, 
and published, without vowels and accents of every des¬ 
cription, how, we may be asked, has the genuine sense of 

k k 2 




4(i4 


REMARKS UPON A 


the text been preserved ? Elias the Levite, the great Jew¬ 
ish advocate for the more- modern invention of the points, 
answers ; by tradition. 

It is universally allowed, that the canon of Scripture 
was finally settled by Ezra after the return from the Ba¬ 
bylonian captivity ; and we are told, that Levites appoint¬ 
ed to the office “ caused the people to understand the law/’ 
and that “ they read in the book of the law of God dis¬ 
tinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand 
the reading.”'* I quote this passage merely to point out, 
if not the commencement, at least the revival, of the prac¬ 
tice of reading the Scriptures publicly to the people. Nor 
will it perhaps be disputed, that this practice, which the 
New Testament proves not to have been disused in our 
Saviour’s time, has been continued down to the present 
day. If therefore the books of Scripture have been con¬ 
stantly read in the synagogue from the period of their re- 
publication by Ezra, must not that reading have been al¬ 
ways marked by some established, as well as appropriate, 
distinction of vowels ? And would not one generation 
scrupulously teach another the same discrimination of 
sense in the way alluded to, which it had itself learnt from 
the generation preceding it? This is precisely still the case. 
For the daily readers in the synagogue, using an unpoint¬ 
ed copy, are under the necessity of themselves supplying 
the vowels memoriter by established rules, which they 
have been taught by others. Now indeed the task of pre¬ 
vious instruction is indisputably facilitated by the adoption 
of the Masoretical system ; but simple as the characteris- 
tical notation of vowels by the mere application of points 
to the consonants appears to be, can we reasonably con¬ 
ceive, that so many ages could have elapsed from the days 
of Ezra to those of the persons usually termed the Maso - 

Nehemiah viii. 8. 


NEW TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. 


465 


rets of Tiberias , without any attempt at a similar nota¬ 
tion, for so important a purpose, of some kind or other ? 

An uniformity of reading, I do not mean in pronun¬ 
ciation, (for the pronunciation of one race of Jews differs 
from that of another,) but in sense, effected by the use of 
appropriate vowels, must have always prevailed in every 
synagogue; and among a people, so vain of their national 
religion, and so superstitiously attached to their sacred 
books, any innovation of meaning in the public reading 
of those books, for the purpose of religious instruction, 
could never surely have been tolerated. In the same man¬ 
ner as the Fathers of the existing synagogue had them¬ 
selves been taught, would their sons be taught, to read 
them ; and so on through successive generations. It is 
indeed possible that this uniformity might sometimes have 
been disturbed in particular instances by conceit, or igno¬ 
rance ; but innovations of the kind alluded to could not 
have been very considerable either in number or in impor¬ 
tance. For had a diversity of reading obtained in differ¬ 
ent synagogues and in different countries, history surely 
would have recorded something like opposition to the Ma- 
soretical attempt of fixing the sense of Scripture by an un¬ 
deviating standard of characteristical vowels. But no¬ 
thing of this description remains on record ; a convincing 
argument, I apprehend, that the application of the Maso- 
retical vowels was in perfect conformity with that sense 
of the text, which had always been taught, and was uni¬ 
versally approved, whether preserved, in the preparatory 
instruction for the public service of the synagogue, by 
mere oral tradition, or by the use of a vowel system less 
refined and more imperfect. 

It seems therefore, that the Masoretical, or received 
Hebrew, text, comprising as well vowels as consonants, 
affords a traditional sense of Scripture more accurate, than 
is to be elsewhere found. Its vowel system, whether 
only a refinement upon one previously in use, or aitoge- 


166 


REMARKS UPON A 


ther a new invention, appears to have been originally ad¬ 
mitted into it in perfect conformity with readings found¬ 
ed upon established usage. That the readings indeed ex¬ 
pressed by the vowels had been always precisely the same, 
without having ever experienced the minutest variation, 
it would be absurd to affirm ; for that would not have been 
the case, had even such vowels been added to the text by 
the inspired writers themselves ; but that a general uni¬ 
formity of reading, traditionally delivered down, prevail¬ 
ed at the time of their being added to it, whensoever that 
time really was, will not perhaps be controverted. 

Indeed the latter point alluded to is not denied by those 
who contend, that the existing vowel system was altoge¬ 
ther unknown, until after the completion of the Babylo¬ 
nian Talmud about the year 500. Nor do they argue that 
before that period no substitute whatsoever for the distinct 
notation of vowels was in use. On the other hand they 
maintain, that the place of points in the art of instruction 
was supplied by what are known under the name of ma- 
tres lectionis. But let us hear the great authority upon 
the question, Cappellus himself. In answer to an oppo¬ 
nent he says ; Puguat Bootius adversus umbram suam, 
sive somnium et eommentum. Quis enim illi negat ali¬ 
quant fuisse apud Hebraeos, ante Masorethas , rationem 
legendi et intelligendi Hebraica non punctata ? Annon 
legit Arcanum, meum? Videat lib. i. cap. 18, 19, ubi 
totam illam rationem fuse satis totis illis capitibus explico. 
Literae nempe multis in locis supplebant locum voca- 
lium , ac lectorem linguae Hebraicae per i turn juvabant , 
adhibita attenta vocum singularum in serie orationis con- 
sideratione, per quam vocum extra seriem orationis posit- 
arum homonymia tollitur.* And in the chapters of his 

* Critica Sacra, Vol. iii. p. 574, 


NEW TRANSLATION OP THE BIBLE. 


467 


Arcanum punctationis revelatum , extending from p. 
157, to p. 186, Cappellus enters into a minute detail of 
the manner in which he supposes the matres lectionis 
were used to supply the place of vowels before the inven¬ 
tion of the points. He likewise admits the position of 
traditional readings transmitted through successive ge¬ 
nerations by the use of these matres lectionis to the days 
of the Masorets, whose complete knowledge of such tradi¬ 
tional readings, and profound skill in the language itself 
enabled them, he imagines, to establish their novel system 
upon a firm and steady basis. He expressly observes; 
longe maxima ex parte earn, quae vocales spectat, lection- 
em secuti sint, quae turn inter Judaeos recepta erat , quae- 
que potest ex lingnae proprio genio, et ex antecedentium 
et consequentium, &c., consideratione certissime demoii- 
strari.* Again; Ex superioribus satis constet, et olim in 
Arcano punctationis a nobis singulari disputatione proba- 
tum sit, puncta, et accentus a Masorethis, post annum a 
Christo nato quingentesimum, consonantibus in Hebraeo 
Veteris Testamenti textu esse addita, prout vel ipsi om¬ 
nibus prepensis et pensiculate examinatis, judicarunt op¬ 
timum, vel prout a magistris per traditionem ‘irargotfagu- 
Sorov edocti fuerant.t Thus likewise in his Arcanum 
punctationis he briefly remarks ; cujus rationis [viz. Ie- 
gendi Hebraica non punctata] cum periti essent Masore- 
thae, lectionem sacram, quam tenebant , et edocti erant , 
excogitatis vocalium et accentuum figuris expresserunt. J 
Upon the whole then it appears, by the admission of 
the very writers themselves, who carry up the invention 
of the points no higher than to the commencement of the 
sixth century, that the readings then established were of 
still greater antiquity. Whether these readings had been 
preserved, as Cappellus conjectures, by the mere use of 
the matres lectionis , or, which I confess seems to me 

* Critica Sacra, Vol. iii. p. 377. f Vo], ii. p. 938. 

1 Page. 281 


46S 


REMARKS UPON A 


more probable, by a more simple system of points than 
the Masoretical, is not of importance to my enquiry : I 
only contend for the fact , that the Masoretical readings 
were more ancient than the period assigned for their uni¬ 
versal reception. 

I have already remarked, that Eichorn, from the strik¬ 
ing conformity of the Masoretical text with that of Jlqui- 
la , carries up its antiquity to the first century of the 
Christian sera. He conceives that we possess sufficient 
data to prove its existence even at so remote a period ; 
but that higher than this we cannot from a defect of data 
proceed with certainty. He does not indeed sptak of the 
Masoretical vowels, but simply of the Masoretcal text, 
which he probably confines to the consonants. There 
seems however I apprehend little reason to doubt the con¬ 
formity of the two texts not only in consonants, but also 
in vowels. It is indeed true, that scattered fragments 
alone of Aquila’s version are come down to us ; yet if 
these are sufficient to indicate the resemblance of his text 
to the Masoretical in the former instance, so likewise may 
they be in the latter. Now Cappellus has furnished us 
with such various readings as he was able to collect from 
the fragments of Aquila, as well as of the other Greek 
versions, from whence a comparison of the kind may be 
instituted. After noticing certain variations in the vow¬ 
els, he adds the following remark : Haec pauca sunt circa 
puncta lectionis exempla, quae nos observavimus ex frag- 
mentis Aquilae, Symmachi, Theodotionis, &c., versionum. 
Si integras jam haberemus translationes, dubium non est, 
quin ex iis longe plura possent annotari exempla ejus- 
modi variae lectionis.* We may therefore conclude that 
these are all the variations of this description, which he 
could discover. Let us now examine their number and 
character. 


* Critica Sacra, Vol. ii. p. 820. 


NEW TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. 


469 


In all they only amount to eleven, which I shall notice 
in the order adopted by Cappellus himself. Job xii. 2, for 
mDn morietur , Aquila reads fllPp perfectiones rsXsiu- 
pa<ra ((faipla s).—Prov. vii. 18, for Q**11 amoribus he reads 
uberibus titSwv.—P salm iv. 3, for *"1133 gloriam 
meant g'v5ogol /xou.—Isaiah iii. 12. for CPC’J mu- 

: • t 

lieres CD’uO a exac tores drfairoOwss.—lb. vii. 11. 

for nSw petitionem nb'xy ad inferos sis a<h]v.—lb. ix. 
5. for rr^b’p principatus mensura <ro — 

—Ib. vii. 11. for DXp dolor desperatus 

CPJX dolebit homo a\$guno£. —Ib.xxxiii. IS,for 
turres cnutritos rovs [tsixsyaXvixpevovs. —Ib. 1 vii. 

10 , for ri>bn non es infir mat a rr^n non supplicasti 
in Pihel oux eXilavevdag. —Ezech. 1. 7, for ^Sty vitulus S 
rotundus rfT^oyyuXov.—Hab. iii. 2. for QpJJJ D*"lpp in 
nnedio annorum in appropinquandis an- 

nis £v tu iyyt^siv <rd l<rij. In addition to these eleven varia¬ 
tions two more are given, in which a different reading 
occurs by the substitution of for Gen. xxvi. 33. 
for septem saturitas <7rX»j(j , f*ovoi.—Hab. iii. 

4, for CDy iii posuit IW* 

These then are all the various readings occasioned by a 
difference in the points, which the eagle eye of Cappellus 
was capable of discovering in the fragments of Aquila ; 
and surely neither their number, nor their importance is 
such as to disprove, when asserted of the vowels, that, 
which Eichorn seems to assert solely of the consonants, 
viz. that their general concurrence establishes a sufficient 
identity between the texts alluded to, so that one text may 
be considered as an apograph of the other. Rather indeed 
may what Eichorn seems to assert of the consonants, be 
more confidently asserted of the vowels ; for if we again 


* Critics Sacra, v. ii. p. 80G—SI G. 
J. L 2 


470 


REMARKS UPON A 


refer to Cappellus we shall find, that the various readings 
in the latter case amount not to the number of those in the 
former. I have noticed no less than one and twenty in¬ 
stances adduced by him,* where a different sense has been 
given by Aquila in consequence of reading the consonants 
differently. If therefore, upon the argument of Eichorn, 
the two texts are to be classed together, notwithstanding 
the diversity of reading in the consonants, much more rea¬ 
son is there to class them together, notwithstanding the 
diversity of reading in the vowels. 

I use the expression diversity of reading in the vow¬ 
els , as if the codex used by Aquila contained vowels as 
well as consonants; but my meaning, it is obvious, only 
applies to the traditional reading of the vowels, in what 
manner soever conveyed, and not to the actual reading 
of them by any written characters in the text. The ma¬ 
terial fact, which I wish to establish simply is, that Aqui¬ 
la and the Masorets in almost all cases read the same con¬ 
sonants with the same vowels, their variations from each 
other in this respect being too trifling to disprove the re¬ 
markable coincidence of their general readings. 

A similar consequence also will result from another 
comparison ; from contemplating the variations in the 
vowel reading of the Septuagint, contrasted with the vowel 
reading of Aquila. Cappellus in the second chapter of his 
fourth book gives a copious selection of these variations. 
Upon an accurate survey of them however we find, that 
in so many as in forty instances the readings also of 
Aquila have been preserved ; but that in thirty-six t of 

* Critica Sacra, lib. v. cap. 5. 

i Viz. Psalm xxxii. 4. xlv. 1. lviii. 9. Ixiv. 7. lxxii. 1. Ixxvi. 3. lxxviii. G9. 
eix. 9. Hosea xiii. 3. Amos i. G. Jonah ii. 6. Ecclesiastes iii 1G. Isaiah ix. 8. 
Psalm xii. 9. xvii. 14. lviii. 6. lxiii. 2. Ixiv. 8. lxix. 4. lxxiii.33. lxxxvii. 6. cx. 14. 
cxxxii. I. cxli. 7. Ecelesiast. xii. 9. Genes, iv. 26. xviii. 12. xxxi. 7. xlvii. 31. 
Deuter. xxxiii. 3. Amos i. 11. Psalm vii. 12. Ixiv. 8. lxxxvii. 4. cxxxix. 2. 
Ixix. 21. 


FERTILITY OF PALESTINE. 


471 


these, where the Septuagint clearly varies from, Aquila 
follows, the vowel reading of the Masorets ; and that even 
three of the four remaining instances it is probable that 
the difference consists, not in the actual reading, but in 
the turn of expression adopted in his translation. One of 
the three alluded to occurs in Psalm exxx. 4. where Aquila 
renders the words ^ SxSv <r °u ou propter 

timorem instead of ut timearis: another in Canticles ii. 
4, where the words vexillum ejns 

super me (J'uit) amor he renders sVagsv sV if dya^v ordi- 
navit super me amorem : and the third in Hosea viii. 5. 
where the words TjSjJI/ fTJf deseruit vituJus tuus , he 
renders owi’uSvjtf ov <rov fayw tfou desere vitulum tuum. Nor 
does Cappellus himself seem t.o consider these as proofs, 
that Aquila read the respective passages differently from 
the Masorets, because he does not so notice them, when he 
subsequently enumerates the various readings of that trans¬ 
lator. The fourth however which occurs, Isaiah xvii. 11. 
he does so notice in his enumeration, as may be seen by 
referring to my former quotation from him ; so that out of 
the forty instances, in which the Septuagint is shewn dis¬ 
tinctly to vary from the Masorets, Aquila appears to devi¬ 
ate only once. 

From the preceding observations, therefore, we may 
conclude, that the Masoretical text, as well in point of 
vowels as of consonants, was the received text of the Jews 
so far back as the first century of the Christian sera. The 
Septuagint 1 admit is in this respect an anomalous transla¬ 
tion, deviating in so many particulars from every other, 
especially in its reading of the vowels, as to be justly sus¬ 
pected of inaccuracy. Indeed it is often expressed so 
loosely as to assume the character rather of a paraphrase 
than of a translation. Its great difference in the reading 
of the vowels, is so prominent as to strike the most care¬ 
less eye. And sometimes also even in the consonants. 


472 


KEMARKS UPON A 


A remarkable instance of both occurs in Isaiah ix. 6. 

Sk fyr nSiS jnpn 

Aw name shall be called Wonderful , Counsellor , 
the mighty God , Me everlasting Father , /Ac Prince of 
‘peace. This is thus strangely translated in the Septuagint, 
xaXsiVai <ro ovop.a aurov, psyaXrjg /3ouX?jg ayyeh os. "Afw yag Bigyvrjv 
zitl roils a^ovrag, xai vylsiav avrui ; a translation, which without 
the slightest change has been transmitted down from the 
days of Jerome ; for that Father, having occasion to quote 
it,'* gives it thus in Latin ; Vocatur nomen ejus Magni 
consilii nuncius. Adducam enim paccm super Prim 
sipes, et sanitatem ejus. Such is the singular rendering 
of this celebrated passage by the Septuagint : while the 
version of Aquila exhibits the usual sense of it. How so 
complicated a twist of a plain meaning was effected, it 
seems difficult to conjecture. Cappellus, however,! with 
his usual confidence, labours to untie the Gordian knot; but 
I do not think that he has been completely successful. 
Equal liberties appear to have been taken with the conso¬ 
nants as with the vowels and accents; liberties, or rather 
perhaps gross deviations from the correct import of words, 
more to be attributed to ignorance and inattention, than to 
premeditated perversion and malevolence. 

The remarkable, as well as numerous variations of the 

* Comment, in Isaiam, cap. ix. 6. 

f Critica Sacra, v. ii. p. 577. He supposes that VJJV K73 Wonder¬ 
ful, Counsellor, was rendered XsyaX^g /SouX%, of the great counsel 
that 712J btf the mighty God, was rendered ayysXog, Angel, because 
DTPS is sometimes so translated; that for Dlbtyity ly’JX the ever¬ 
lasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the translators read by N’ZJN 
Olbt? cc£w eitfv-rjv sxi i rous agx ovras (-rov. a^wa) I will bring peace 
to the princes ; and that r.c/.i uymoev ccutw is a gloss from some other 
version. This explanation seems more ingenious than solid; allow¬ 
ing more than usual latitude to the most latitudinarian of all inter¬ 
preters. 


NEW TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. 


473 


Septuagint in its vowel reading, is noticed by Capellus. 
I cannot, however, agree with him in the reason, which he 
assigns for it. He says; Unde est quod LXX interpetum 
lectio frequentissime mirum in modnm ah hodierna 
punctatione distat; quia illi omnium longissime a Mciso- 
retharum scculo abfuerunt. At paraphrastarum Chal- 
daicorum, item Aquilae, Simmachi, Theodotionis, S. Hiero- 
nymi, lectio quoad vocales, ab hodierna punctatione propius 
ubit, et multo minus longe discedit, quia isti Masoretha- 
rura aetati propius vixerunt .* This reasoning might have 
weight, if some sort of imperfect vowel system, when the 
Septuagint was translated, were supposed to have existed, 
which was gradually improving to the days of the Maso- 
rets ; but I do not see what influence the totally new 
invention of a vowel system in their days could possibly 
have had over translators who preceded them, and who 
were altogether without the knowledge not only of their, 
hut of every vowel system whatsoever. Neither will the 
presumption of a traditional reading, howsoever preserved, 
which is supposed to vary with the varying sera, satisfac¬ 
torily account for all the circumstances of the case; because, 
if so, that version which was nearest to the Masoretical 
age, would also most closely resemble the Masoretical read¬ 
ings. This however appears not to he the fact; for the 
version of Theodoiio, which was made at least fifty years 
nearer to the Masoretical age, is farther removed from the 
Masoretical readings, than the version of Jiquila. Nor is 
it only farther removed from the Masoretical readingss, 
hut also intimately allied to those of the Septuagint. Upon 
the latter point Montfaucon has the following remark ; 
Theodotio, ut jam probavimus, post Aquilain et ante Sym- 
machum, interpretationem suam, imperante Commodo, in 
lucem emisit, et in vertendi modo a LXX interpretihus 


* Critica Sacra, Prref. p. xiii, 


474 


REMARKS UFOS’ A 


minus, quam alii, deflexit : imo etiam LXX ssspissime se~ 
cut us est.* 

To what then, it may be said, are we to attribute the 
fact, that the Septuagint version, with which we may like* 
wise class the version of Theodotio, so perpetually differs 
from the Masoretical readings, while that of Aquila gene¬ 
rally coincides with them ? Not I apprehend to any distant 
or any approximating period, at which they might have 
been respectively composed ; but solely to the abilities, 
and means of information, possessed by the several trans¬ 
lators. I assume that each of them translated from an 
unpointed text; but contend, that Aquila alone of the 
three thoroughly understood the Hebrew language, and 
was conversant with the traditional readings of the syna¬ 
gogue. H is close adherence to the Hebrew, and the esti- 
mation in which his version was held by the Jews them¬ 
selves, are too well known to require proof. But the case 
was very different with the other two. The frequent mis¬ 
conception of the plainest meaning by the translators of 
the Septuagint not only demonstrate, that they read from 
a text without vowels, but that they were altogether inca¬ 
pable of supplying them according to the true genius of 
the language, and the common principles of vowel con¬ 
struction. And the knowledge of Hebrew, which Theo¬ 
dotio possessed, was in the judgment of Montfaucon far 
inferior to that of Aquila. Non infrequenter etiam, he re¬ 
marks, Theodotio, peculiarem sibi , ab aliisque omnibus 
diversam interpretationcm, adornat; in iisque locis longe 
minore , quam Aquila , vel Symmachus, Hebraic® linguaj 
peritia instructus deprehenditur.t But whatsoever their 
skill in the language might, or might not, nave been, the 
versions of Theodotio and Symmachus have been always 
rejected by the Jews as much less conformable with the 


* Proelim. in Hexapl. cap. vii. § 2. 


f Ibid. 


NEW TRANSLATION OP THE BIBLE. 


475 


customary received sense of the sacred writings, than that 
of Aquila. 

It is now something more than two and twenty centu¬ 
ries, since Ezra himself, an inspired writer, established the 
canon, and published the text, of Scripture; and it appears 
certain from the preceding remarks, that for so long a pe¬ 
riod as for the last seventeen of these centuries, the Maso- 
retical readings have not only existed, but have been always 
contemplated as the genuine readings of this text. That 
incidental inaccuracies may have been committed in the act 
of transmitting them down through successive generations, 
may be admitted without impeachment to their general 
fidelity. These however affect not the principal question. 
Nor is it indeed probable that any other systematical read¬ 
ings, or, to adopt the language of modern criticism, any 
other edition of the text, was ever known from the days 
of Ezra to the present time. The only argument in proof 
of another edition is derived from the anomalies of the 
Septuagint; but this version, as I have remarked, is in 
itself so garbled, and abounds with so many proofs of error, 
as well as of ignorance, or inadvertence, if not of both, that 
no very legitimate inference can be deduced from it. 

But it may be said, that, setting aside all consideration 
of the Septuagint, other editions besides the Masoretical, 
are most probably extant. For if we suppose the existence 
of two very ancient manuscripts A and B, the latter of 
which is now lost, but that before it was lost, the transcript 
c containing ten errors was made from it, the transcript n 
containing ten more from c, and so on in a multiplied ratio 
of error through the alphabet to z ; and that then the tran¬ 
script z, from the ignorance or caprice of criticism, being 
held in the highest estimation, became the common oirgin 
ot other transcripts a, §, y, &e. ; surely if we suppose these 
things, it will be impossible for us to deny, that the last 
mentioned transcripts a, €, y, &c., must exhibit a different 
Edition from that which is found in A : and if we do not 


REMARKS UPON A 


476 

deny this, we acknowledge the propable existence of two 
distinct Editions at least. To the abstract principle con¬ 
tained in this reasoning, borrowed from Griesbach, I readi- 
ty and unreservedly subscribe ; but in the present case can 
by no means admit its practical result. The question turns 
not upon what Editions may , but upon what actually do , 
exist. In order to detect different Editions of the text, 
let us hear the rule of Griesbach himself: Attendendum est 
prascipue ad lectiones insigniores atque graviores , h. e. 
eas, quae vel sensum mutant , vel glossematibus constant 
exquisitis , vel e vulgaribus lectionum variantium causis 
(e. gr. literarum aut soni similitudine, &c.) derivari ne- 
queant, vel omittendo (nisi opoiorsXsvrov omissioni occasionem 
prsebuerit) addendove a lectione recepta discedunt. Again ; 
Ut aliam recensionem inesse statuamus codici A, aliam 
codici B, nocesse est non solum ut discrepantiae occurrunt 
satis frequentes, per textum universum diffusae, verum 
etiam, ut ratio discrepantiae universae reddi nequeat e libra - 
rii sive negligentia sive imperitia, aliisque vulgaribus 
lectionum dissonantium causis :* Now before it be pre¬ 
sumed, that an Edition of the Old Testament different from 
the Masoretical either does exist, or ever has existed, it is 
requisite, that the more remarkable and important vari¬ 
ations in the readings of some other text be distinctly 
pointed out. This however, if we except the vain under¬ 
taking of drawing pure water from what Eichorn terms 
the muddy ditch of the Septuagint, has been never yet 
effected. Every version therefore, upon which reliance 
can be placed, and every Manuscript extant, must be re¬ 
ferred to one and the same Edition, the Masoretical. The 
utmost to be presumed is, that they may belong to differ¬ 
ent families of this one Edition ; but no attempt even at 
such subordinate classification, from the perplexity perhaps, 
and inferior utility of the task, has ever been made. 

* Curse in Hist. Test. Cir. Epist. Paulin, p. 32, 33. 


NEW TRANSLATION OP THE BIBLE. 477 

The result, then of the whole is this $ that the antiquity 
of the received Hebrew text may be clearly carried up to 
the first century of the Christian rera. For the sake of 
argument however, instead of dating the certain existence 
of it seventeen centuries back, let us date it only thirteen ; 
and fix its origin at the very commencement of the sixth 
century, when we are told, that the characters of vowels 
and accents were originally invented. Will it even then 
follow, that any other text can be referred to, as occurring 
either in versions or in manuscripts, at all to be compared 
with it ? Certainly not ? for the versions as 1 have remark¬ 
ed are themselves of the same Edition ; and every ma¬ 
nuscript in existence must be contemplated as a mere in¬ 
dividual of some particular family derived from it. 

The Masoretical text therefore as distinguished bv vowels 
and accents, although not of inspired, is nevertheless of 
verjr high authority. It is incontrovertibly at least thir¬ 
teen centuries old ; and furnishes us with a reading of in¬ 
estimable value, not only on account of its own intrinsic 
excellence and antiquity, but also on account of the tradit¬ 
ional character with which it is invested. Whether we consi¬ 
der its vowel readings, as substitutions for some other more 
ancient and more simple readings of a similar description, 
or as substitutions for the mere use of the Matres Lecti- 
onis, still must we regard them as readings universally 
inspected at a period long anterior to the date of our oldest 
Manuscripts. Yet these are the readings, which many 
modern translators, particularly in our own country, have 
despised and derided ; conceiving, as one of the last but 
not least celebrated of their number sarcastically remarks, 
that “ his critical judgment must be iveak indeed, who 
is not qualified to revise and reverse the decisions of the 
wise men of Tiberias.”* 

We know that the Greek of the New Testament was 


* Bishop Horsley, Preface to Ho sea, 

mm2 


478 


.REMARKS UPON A 


originally written without pauses to regulate the sense, 
and without any distinction of words. But were it pos¬ 
sible for us to possess an early copy of it, or the trans¬ 
cript of an early copy, with every deficiency of the kind al¬ 
luded to fully supplied by persons abundantly competent 
to the task, should we not esteem it a treasure of the first 
critical importance? Now we possess such an early copy 
of the Old Testament in the Masoretical pointing of the 
text, which not onty distinguishes between one word and 
another, as well as between one sentence and another, but 
between words connected together in the same sentence ; 
and what is more, gives a determinate sense to the words 
themselves, the meaning of which would be otherwise 
vague and uncertain. Nor should it be forgotten, that the 
vowels and accents, by the combined operation of which so 
clear and steady a light is thrown over every part of the 
text, are not only themselves of very high, but likewise 
emanate from traditional readings of still higher, antiquity. 
Is it possible, that any critic, who gives himself a mo¬ 
ment’s time for reflexion, and who is not altogether over¬ 
run with self-conceit, can persist in exhibiting so egregious 
a want of judgment as to despise, and so consummate a 
proof of folly as to deride, readings of this description. 


CHAP. VII. 


Theory of elucidating Hebrew by the cognate dialects, particu¬ 
larly by the Arabic. Extract from Schultens, in exemplifi¬ 
cation of this theory. The verb Su- More ingenuity of 
investigation , than solidity of reasoning in it. Languages 
derived from the same source do not always use the same 
word in the same sense. The derivative sense more likely to 
occur in the more modern, and the primitive in the most an¬ 
cient languages. Position, that the Hebrew tongue may be 
greatly illustrated by the study of the dialects , contains some 
theoretical truth with much practical uncertainty. Difficulty 
of the illustration. Signification of words in a constant 
state of fluctuation. Improvement in criticism often brings 
increase in perplexity. Oriental languages built upon the 
same foundation are sometimes composed of different materi¬ 
als. Hebrew and Syriac. Restrictions prescribed by Ba- 
vcr. Lexicons improved only in Etymological investigations. 
A translator not to be led astray by ingenious conceits, and 
Theoretical novelties. 

Having endeavoured to point out in detail the futility 
of their reasoning, who contend for the necessity of a 
new tranalation from a presumption, that the received 
Hebrew text has been rendered infinitely more correct 
than at the period of the last translation, which was taken 
from it, by the very improved state of modern criticism ; 
and to demonstrate that the received text is not only the 
best, but the most ancient and authoritative, which can be 
adopted, I shall now briefly consider another part of their 
reasoning, in pursuit of the same object, grounded upon 
the supposed advantages, which a translator of the Bible 
would now possess in consequence of the great illustration, 
which the Hebrew language has received from a more ex- 
tended cultivation of oriental literature. The former ar- 


480 


REMARKS UPON A 


goment relates to the emendation of the text itself, the 
latter to the explanation of the words, of which that text 
is composed. 

It has long been conceived that the Hebrew language is 
capable of very considerable elucidation by what we usual¬ 
ly denominate the sister dialects , that is, by other lan¬ 
guages of the same origin, particularly by the Sj'riac, 
Chaldee, and Arabic. This has been a favourite topic 
with the admirers of Schultens, who, possessing a deep 
and accurate knowledge of Arabic, zealously laboured to 
demonstrate how greatly that language was capable of il¬ 
lustrating Hebrew, in his “ Origines Hebraeae; sive He- 
braeae linguae antiquissima natura, et indoles ex Arabiae 
penetralibus revocata,” as well as in his “De Defectibus 
hodiernis Linguae Hebraeae,” and in the controversy which 
succeeded them. There is doubtless much ingenuity and 
recondite investigation displayed by this able Scholar upon 
a subject, where imagination is ever ready to seize the 
reins of reason ; a subject, which few besides himself 
could so systematically expand or so lavishly adorn ; but 
it seems carried to an extreme, and frequently fails of pro¬ 
ducing substantial fruit by being too theoretical and refin¬ 
ed for practical utility. Indeed his whole hypothesis is 
framed upon the anvil of those philosophical lexicographers 
of Arabia, who, persuaded that the materials of their own 
language were inexhaustible, fabricated with no vulgar 
vanity their intricate links of combined significations from 
what they conceived to be the profundity of its principles, 
and the subtilty of its construction. 

As a specimen of the mode of elucidation adopted by 
Schultens, I shall give in his own language a few extracts 
from his critical disquisition upon the Hebrew word SlJ, 
which in his tract “ De Defectibus hodiernis Ling. Heb. 
occupies more than four quarto pages ; referring the reader 
for fuller information to the tract itself. Ordior a *HJI, 
Arabice quod declaratur per gp incrementum 


NEW TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. 


481 


roburquecepit adolescens, granum in spica ; ut est apud 
Golium. Sic habes grandescere, magnum fieri, adolescere, 
succrescere, roborari, invales cere, aliasque ideas magnitu- 
dinis , quas Dictionaria nostra tm S-u recte et rite attribuunt, 
lilud autem incrementum roburque cepit, satis apparet esse 
secundarium ac derivatum. Ex quo fonte ? Ex firmiter 
torquendo et plectendo funiculo, quod tanquam princeps 
atque primigenium radicis enotatur a Criticis Arabum. 
Zjauhari ; * * “ Dicitur Snn nSui torsi fiun'em quum 
odiio Sns nnSnD densiore et firmiore compage in¬ 
torques. Inde Jl/’njlO puella, qux elegantiore est sta- 
tura , et tenui gracilitatc prxditus vir , non ex 

made . Item Stu d by juvenis robustior fiactus, et 
granum S-n, quum sit grandius et firmius.” Similiter 
fere Phiruzabadi. * * “ Dicitur STl hoc vel illud, qui 
firmiter intorquet; et vir SviJlft vocatur, cui ilia subti- 
liore filo deducta,, simulque validities compacta membra 
sunt. Brachium ‘thn est robustius, compactius. Crus 
nbvm* item compactius firmiusque. N'S-U mulier 
pulchro plexu textuve corporis proedita ; et a loricis, fir¬ 
mius contexta. Et nOVil intortus, intex- 

tusque fiuit ficetus caprex , aliorumve foetus, pro adoleve- 
runt et robusti evaserunt .” * * * Hinc proclivis fuit me- 
taphora ad corpus, quod nervis, venis, tendinibus, toris, 
intexitur, quasi, et firmum sibi ac compactum robur 
acquirit. Such is the ground-work of his argument; let 
us now see the application of it. 

Ex hac jam origine thematis bn vel gratia, vel lux 
etiam nova , sese insinuabit in loca bene multa. Liquet 
nunc, verbi causa, quantus sit nervus in formula to 
ynt Exod. xv. 16. Proprie lacerti cornpacti et torosi 
firmitudo intorta et robustior. * * Ad firmiiqtem com- 
pactam etiam respicitur Esai. i. 2. 

vulgo, Filios educavi et extuli. Subest nervosius quid, 
et venustius. In corpore humano, cum quo comparator 
populus Judaicus, duo requiruntur, qure illud perficiant, 


4S2 


REMARKS UPON A 


suisque numeris abselvanl. Prima dos est, nervis, torisque 
vaiidisesse instructam, unde vires subrninistrantur. Altera, 
ut bene compactum et firmum corpus, non humile maneat, 
sed in altum consurgat et excrescat. Utrumque eleganter 
complexus est Propheta. Haec propria est facies orationis. 
Improprie, in isto corpore reip. Judaica?, illud E'ZIV 1*1 
Filios nervis compegi et corroboravi , est opibus 
et divitiis, qui sunt nervi rerum, feci invalescere; 1*1 

in proceram extnli staturam , est ad Majestatis culmen 
evexi. Suspicor subtilius hoc discrimen, quod natura lin¬ 
guae adfert, etiamde industria captatum esse Esai. xxiii. 

4. np) m ♦noon Dninn non firmos 

eduxi juvenes, non procerus educavi virgines. Nempe 
laus juvenum in compacto robore membrorum ; quum 
"Virginum potius decus consistat in erecta et proceriore 
statura. * * * Hisce praemunitis, non alienum, nec 
audax nimis videbitur, quod Jobi vii. 17, verba ilD 
IjSqin O convertere sustineam, Quid est Mor- 

talis, 0 deus fortis, quod tu te implices cum eo ? Jldver- 
sus cum desccndas in arenam , tanquam luctutor , et 
gravis adversarius, cum eo mantes conserens , digladi- 
ansqueT* 

In the primitive significations of Hebrew words, as 
minutely extracted in this manner from the arabic by 
Schultens, I confess, that there has always appeared to me 
more ingenuity of investigation, than solidity of reason¬ 
ing. With respect to the word in question the idea of 
magnitude in size or quantity, which had been affixed to 
it by preceding lexicographers, he considers as a seconda¬ 
ry sense of it only, and for its primary sense refers to 
his favourite Arabic, which furnishes him with the idea 
of implication. But he does not mention the second sig¬ 
nification of the word as given in the Lexicon of Castel- 
lus, which is Liquavit butyrum, adipemve. How is the. 


* §. exeix, cci, ccii, cciii, ccv. 


NEW TRANSLATION OP THE BIBLE. 


433 


idea of twisting, as in the case of a rope , to be associated 
with that of melting, as in the case of butter or fat? 
Both are compatible enough with that of magnitude ; for 
as the act of twisting the several parts of a rope together 
increases their bulk by combination, so also does the act of 
melting: enable the butter or fat to cover a larger surface. 

I will not how r ever stop to dispute the primary sense of 
- the w'ord, having other objections to his system. 

I do not understand upon what rational principle it can 
be maintained, that the same w T ord is always to retain its 
primary meaning in all the allied languages, into which it 
may be adopted. Thus it is admitted, that 7“fJl in Arabic 
signifies to twist, and also to contend. But what does it 
signify in Syriac and Ethiopic ? In Syriac, as also in Tal- 
mudical Chaldee, it signifies only to twist ; and in Ethio¬ 
pic it signifies only to contend ; so that no more than one 
of the two senses applied to it in Arabic is applicable to it 
either in Syriac or Ethiopic, and not even that indifferent¬ 
ly. But it may be said, are lexicographers in Syriac and 
Ethiopic to be trusted ? May not upon a minute search 
passages be found in both these languages, where both the 
senses alluded to occur? It is impossible to prescribe li¬ 
mits to those, who wire-draw meanings from words for 
the establishment of a particular hypothesis ; yet surely 
the chances of their being right are against them when 
they can only obtain a colour for the probability of their 
interpretation, perhaps in one only out of a hundred in¬ 
stances. 

Now if this argument has weight when applied to the 
use of the word in Syriac and Ethiopic upon a comparison 
with the Arabic, it has much more weight when applied 
to its use in Hebrew upon the same comparison. In the 
Bible 7IJI occurs as a verb more than a hundred times, 
and as a noun more than Jive hundred times ; yet is it only 
in one of these numerous instances, that Schultens labours 
to fix upon the word the signification of implicare. Grant- 


4S4 


HEMARKS UPON A 


ing therefore that such is its meaning in Arabic, and that 
it is capable of bearing the,same meaning in the passage of 
Job alluded to, can vve possibly admit this to be the true 
sense of it, when we recollect that it is indisputably used 
more than six hundred times in a different signification ? 
The other passages of Scripture, to which he refers, are 
so explained as not to exclude the usual meaning of the 
word, although it is supposed to invest them with a cer¬ 
tain recondite sense, of which the vulgar linguist would 
never form the slightest suspicion. 

That languages derived from a common source do not 
always use the same word in the same sense, is a remark 
too trite to require confirmation. The caprice of collo¬ 
quial usage disdains the precision of philosophical uniform¬ 
ity. Nor does the same word in the same language bear 
in every age the same signification. To give an instance 
in our own language upon a comparison with the German. 
The word Knave in English has now no such meaning as 
the annalogous term Knabe* in German, in which lan¬ 
guage it means a Boy. This however was once its mean¬ 
ing also in English ; but such a sense of it is become obso¬ 
lete. Nay, words are sometimes found completely to 
change their meaning. Thus when, the present version of 
the Bible was made, the verb let signified to hinder , as 2 
Thess. ii. 7 ; “he who now lettefh, will let, until he be 
taken out of the way.” But at present it is only used in 
the opposite sense of permitting. 

Another observation likewise may be added, which 
militates against the theory of Schultens. The nearer we 
approach the fountain head of the languages in question, 
the greater I apprehend must be the probability of our 
discovering the primitive senses of words. But the di¬ 
rect reverse of this takes place in the theory before us, 
particularly with respect to the word mere immediately 

* Knabe in Germany, answers to Knave in English, as Grabe answers 
to Grave. 


NEW TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. 


485 


under investigation. For Schultens himself admits, that 
the derivative , not the primitive , signification of it al¬ 
most universally occurs in ancient Hebrew, which has 
ceased to be spoken for more than two thousand years, 
while its primitive , not its derivative , signification almost 
as universally occurs in modern Arabic. 

But omitting all further consideration of the refined, the 
laborious, and the complicated investigations of Schultens, 
I proceed to contemplate the general principles of the posi¬ 
tion, that the knowledge of Hebrew has been consider¬ 
ably extended by a more comprehensive and accurate 
study in modern times of what are termed its kindred di¬ 
alects. It has been asserted, and certainly not without 
strong presumptive reasoning, that by these the significa¬ 
tions attributed to many obscure Hebrew words may be in¬ 
cidentally confirmed, and sometimes indeed new significa¬ 
tions discovered, that the defects of that language, arising 
from the paucity of its remains, and other incidental cau¬ 
ses, may be often supplied, and that its analogies in ge¬ 
neral may be appropriately elucidated. Upon the ability 
however of thus supplying its defects, much has indeed 
been written, but, too much perhaps assumed. It has been 
conceived with respect to single words, that the etymons 
of many, not otherwise apparent, may in this way be ef¬ 
fectually detected $ and not only the primitive senses of 
their respective roots be restored, but in several instances 
their derivative or secondary, when in direct opposition to 
their primitive senses, satisfactorily investigated and that 
the meanings of some, usually esteemed dubious, may be 
illustrated, those of others, which but seldom occur, be 
detected, and those of a few, which occur but once, be 
successfully explored. Nor has the utility of these cog¬ 
nate languages been supposed to consist in the mere supply 
of etymological deficiencies, but likewise of illuminating 
with the blaze of day many singular phrases and idioms, 
altogether abhorrent from European usage. 

N N 2 


REMARKS UPON A 


486 

In this ingenious argument there seems to be some theo¬ 
retical truth combined with much practical uncertainty. If 
however we give it its full weight, and admit the occa¬ 
sional felicity of its application, still must we regard that 
application as a task of no common difficulty and delicacy. 
The translator who attempts to tread on this alluring ground 
is under the constant temptation of forsaking every beaten 
track and of wandering into perpetual intricacies ; of sub¬ 
stituting philosophical speculation for logical deduction, 
and critical refinement for solid reasoning. Ever prying 
after discoveries, his imagination is disposed to convert 
the wild weed into a highly cultivated flower, and the 
mean plant of daily occurrence into an exotic of inestima¬ 
ble rarity ; and always eager for novelties, he is usually 
more intent upon displaying his own talent at singular re¬ 
search, than upon explaining the word of God with unaf¬ 
fected simplicity. Nor will those, who are most zealous 
to enrich Hebrew with the spoils of its kindred dialects, 
admit, that the enterprize is one of vulgar accomplishment; 
or that the weapon, to be successfully used in this war of 
words, may be wielded by every arm. 

To elucidate indeed a language of such remote antiquity, 
as the Hebrew, by others, of which, how much soever 
originally allied to it, we possess, at this very distant period 
of time, nothing like coeval remains, nothing but what in 
point of date is at least posterior to it many centuries, must 
always appear an arduous, and often prove an abortive, 
undertaking. The signification of words in all languages 
are in a constant state of fluctuation, and are undergoing 
perpetual modifications. Political changes in the forms 
and principles of governments, commercial connexions 
with foreign nations, pursuits previously unknown, the 
introduction of novel, or the amelioration of ancient, 
codes of faith, the cultivation of literature and science, the 
refinement of manners, and the general improvement in 
all the arts and luxuries of life, with many similar causes. 


NEW TRANSLATION OP THE BIBLE. 


487 


combine not only to render necessary the adoption of new 
words, but to impose other significations upon those which 
are already in use,and frequently produce a complete change 
in their forms and constructions. The primary imports of 
many become in time obsolete, and are superseded by 
meanings of extraneous origin and connexion ; some as¬ 
sume metaphorical senses by the most perplexing analogies; 
and others are even perverted by the caprice of custom 
into senses diametrically opposite to those, by which they 
were before distinguished. Were we better acquainted } 
than we are, with modern Greek, we might perhaps be 
enabled to throw occasional light upon some obscure pas¬ 
sages in the Greek writers of antiquity ; but the attempt 
would require no little discrimination, and would scarcely 
be deemed the province of a translator, who ought not to 
transgress the bounds of sober criticism by wandering into 
the wilds of abstract reasoning and philosophical theory. 
Surely therefore we cannot presume, that less circumspec¬ 
tion, and less control over the blandishments of fancy, are 
requisite in translating the language of the Bible, than in 
translating that of a mere classical author. 

The difiiculties, which at every turn surround the path 
of him, who, while engaged in the task of translation, is 
disposed to traverse the wide field of philosophical refine¬ 
ment, and conjectural speculation, are innumerable. When 
therefore we extol the improvement which Hebrew criti¬ 
cism has received, from a more extended cultivation of the 
oriental languages, in modern times, we are apt to forget, 
that improvement in criticism too often brings with it in¬ 
crease in perplexity ; and that if we embark upon the ocean 
of conjecture, no little resolution, as well as discrimina¬ 
tion, is requisite to prevent a perpetual deviation from our 
track, under the influence of respectable names and plausi¬ 
ble authorities. 

But the obstacles in the way of elucidation by the kin¬ 
dred languages appear still more formidable, when it is 


488 


REMARKS UPON A 


considered, that although they are all built upon the same 
foundation as the Hebrew, yet the superstructure of each 
is not only in many instances differently arranged, but 
sometimes composed of very different materials. Schul- 
tens indeed contends that they do not vary from each other 
more than the Greek dialects vary ; and therefore repre¬ 
sents them as mere dialects of one and the same common 
language. Were we however to admit, that this was pro¬ 
bably the case when the Bible was written, would it follow 
that the flux of time had not considerably changed them ? 
But in truth evidence remains on record to prove, that 
Hebrew, and Syriac at least exhibited radical differences 
previously to the days of Moses. When Laban and Jacob 
erected a pillar in witness of the covenant existing between 
them, Jacob we are told called it that is, the heap 

of testimony , or the testifying heap* Now the words 
heap and *1^ testimony , which constitute the denomi¬ 
nation, are peculiar to the Hebrew tongue, and are not 
found in Syriac. Neither is this all ; for we are express¬ 
ly informed that Laban was a Syrian, and that he called 
it Nrmnt^ “UP- Now these, words, which convey pre¬ 
cisely the same meaning as are altogether unknown 

in pure Hebrew ; but are of frequent recurrence both in 
Syriac and Chaldee, and that without the slightest altera¬ 
tion either of form or of sense. The first of the two in¬ 
deed, is not found in Arabic ; but the latter occurs in 
that language also. When I remark that these words are 
altogether unknown in pure Hebrew, I mean only in the 
same senses as they bear in Syriac and Chaldee ; for 
as a verb occurs it is true in Hebrew, but with a very dif¬ 
ferent signification, meaning to fear. . And it is singular, 
that ‘"UN, from which it might perhaps be supposed that 
with a change of the first radical £■$ into ♦ was derived, 
signifies indeed in Hebrew to collect ; but that in Syriac. 


* Genesis xxxi. 47. 


NEW TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. 4S9 

Chaldee, and Arabic it signifies to hire , as a verb, and re¬ 
ward as a substantive ; meanings in no respect compatible 
with the supposed derivation. Upon the whole therefore 
may we not conclude, that something more than a mere 
difference of dialect, that an essential difference in the sig¬ 
nification of words, existed, not only when the Bible was 
composed, but at an sera long anterior to that, in which 
Moses lived, confessedly the most ancient of the sacred 
historians and prophets ? 

But were we even to admit the validity of this ingenious 
hypothesis in all its parts, still must no inconsiderable dif¬ 
ficulties oppose the practicability of its application. I will 
here briefly enumerate the restrictions and rules, which 
Baver prescribes to the adventurous critic, who embarks 
on this hazardous voyage of philological discovery. I. 
Prima lex : Non una solummodo, sed omnes dialecti orien¬ 
tates simul adhibendas sunt in illustranda dialecto Hebraica, 
quatenus fieri poterit. Under this head he censures Schul- 
tens for giving his sole attention to Arabic, and Ludolf to 
Ethiopic. II. Lex secunda : Non tarn e lexicis quam e lec- 
tione scriptorum Arabicorum, Syrorum, Chaldaicorum, 
&c. ipsa, usum loquendi discant, qui Hebraicis inde lucem 
affundere cupiunt. III. Lex tertia : Accuratam cogni- 
tionem mutationum habeas, quas elementa literarum pa- 
tiuntur. IV. Lexquarta: Caveant sibi a mere arbitraria 
per7nutatione et metathesi literarum. V. Lex quinta : 
In usu dialectorum modum non excedant. Hoc autem 
fit, quando verbo Hebraico centies, imo millies in cod. 
sacr. V. T. repetito, quod certam et indubitatam sig- 
nificationem , et ubivis quidem, ubi recurrit, eandem 
habet, aliarn ex dialectis vim quoerunt et, hanc alienam 
in locum illius receptse et vulgaris substituunt. VI. Lex 
sexta : Radicibus non significationes affingant, quas non 
per se, sed tantum in contexta oratione tropice aut aliis 
vocibus conjunct a? habet. These maxims he exemplifies 
by various remarks upon writers of reputation, who ap~ 


490 


REMARKS UPON A 


pear to have transgressed against the sober rules of criti¬ 
cism ; and concludes with the following words : Et sic 
innumera exempla colligi possunt, quae testantur, themata 
Arabica male intellecta et solummodo e lexicis sine prae- 
vio examine corrasa ad illustranda Iiebraica successu pa- 
rum felici adhibita fuisse. Itaque vitio nemini vertendum 
est, qui optat, ut caute res tractetur, eique non nisi viri 
linguarum orientalium peritissimi manum admoveant. Si 
his accedat, ut interdum dormitent ; quid demum tironi- 
bus, solidiore cognitione non imbutis, metuendum est.* 
Too much attention cannot be paid to these rules of Baver 
by him, who thinks himself qualified, and feels suffici-* 
ently bold, to tread on this fairy ground. 

But after all, what has the boasted elucidation of Hebrew 
by its kindred dialects effected ? Since the time of Schul- 
tens Lexicons have been constructed upon the principles 
proposed by him ; but I do not perceive, what additions 
they have made to the stock of our knowledge respecting 
the significations of words. The only improvement at¬ 
tempted seems to consist in mere etymological investiga¬ 
tions. We learn, for example, that earth is derived 
from a verb of the same radicals in Arabic, which signifies 
to be humble , or depressed ; and that heaven is to 

be referred to a similar verb in Arabic, signifying to be ex¬ 
alted ; but no alteration whatsoever is made in the mean¬ 
ing itself of either word, Thus likewise Eichorn in his 
improved edition of Simon’s Lexicon under the word 
refers to the disquisition of Schultens upon it already quo¬ 
ted, and conceives its original sense to have been contor- 


* Hcrmeneut. Sacr. p. 119—135. I have referred here and elsewhere to the 
works of Baver, because from the freedom of his opinions he cannot be suspect¬ 
ed of being too rigidly orthodox either in criticism or theology. Some parts of 
his Hermeneutica Sacra gave so much offence, that lie was not permitted to 
print it at Halle, in Saxony. His testimony therefore on this account will not be 
charged with partiality towards that side of the question, which I myself em¬ 
brace. 


NEW TRANSLATION OP THE BIBLE. 


491 


sit, tortus et implicatus est ex multis faniculis in den - 
siorem funem ; but he makes no alteration of any kind in 
its usual Hebrew signification. Indeed the whole system, 
of which we have heard so much, and to which some are 
disposed to give credit for more than they have heard, 
seems rather calculated to gratify the vanity of criticism, 
than to convey useful and solid information. 

Nor were the pretensions of his philological speculation, 
and its probable effects, greater than they appear to be, 
would it become the translator of an inspired book, in a 
version appropriated to public instruction, to be led astray 
from the direct path of sober exposition by ingenious con^. 
ceits and theoretical novelties. The ardent eye of him, 
who recommends a new hypothesis in criticism or in si¬ 
lence, is always fixed upon its ideal importance ; but time 
alone is the test of truth. A translator therefore would be 
highly culpable, who suffered himself to wander from the 
established principles of legitimate translation, in order 
to display his own talent at conjectural interpretation, and 
t,o try experiments with the word of God. 


CHAP. viir. 


Recapitulation. Conclusion. English Established Version 
translated from the Hebrew. Style of it admired. Obso¬ 
lete expressions. Defects of it counterbalanced by its many 
Excellencies. Not likely to be superseded by a better. 

If we take then a review of the arguments adduced by 
those, who have contended for the necessity of a new 
translation, the solitary arguments, if arguments they can 
be called, of Mr. Bellamy alone excepted, they will ap¬ 
pear to be grounded upon the presumptions, that the He¬ 
brew text, from which our present translation was made, 
was a corrupted one ; that it has however since received 
many great and important emendations ; that the transla¬ 
tors themselves from a defect in the literature of their day 
possessed not a competent knowledge of the Hebrew lan¬ 
guage; and that Hebrew erudition has in modern times 
been caried to an unparalleled extent by a deep and accu¬ 
rate investigation of certain principles, which Hebrew pos¬ 
sesses in common with other Oriental languages. 

In opposition to the first and second points presumed I 
have endeavoured to prove in detail, that the reverse is the 
fact; that the received Hebrew text is not only the most 
perfect, but the only one, upon which any reliance can be 
placed in existence ; and that the emendations, which have 
been proposed, have tended not to purify, but to corrupt 
it. I have likewise pointed out the indisputable antiquity 
of this text, originally grounded upon the traditional read¬ 
ings of the Jewish synagogue ; and insisted, that to depart 
from this altogether is to involve the sacred writings in 
chaotic darkness. At the same time however I have ad¬ 
mitted, that inaccuracies, although of trivial importance, 
may have crept into it; and that if it were possible it 


NEW TRANSLATION OP THE BIBLE. 


493 


would be highly desirable to remove them ; but that they 
have never yet been satisfactorily pointed out; and that 
no effectual attempt has been made by an appropriate clas¬ 
sification of manuscripts, and a complete collation of ver¬ 
sions, or by other means, even to detect, much less to 
to amend, them. Under such circumstances then I cannot 
but maintain, that to talk of a'new translation from an im¬ 
proved Hebrew text argues a blind temerity, bordering 
upon the extreme of folly. I am disposed to give full scope 
to every display of critical investigation ; but I cannot 
admit, that a public version of Scriptures should be cast 
in a mould accomodated to individual fancy and conceit. • 

We know what the labours of Mill, Wetstein, and Gries- 
bach, have affected in advancing the criticism of the New 
Testament; and that Griesbach particularly spent the 
greatest part of his life in the classifications of MSS., and in 
minutely ascertaining the value of their respective readings 
upon the most rigid principles. We also know, that the 
result of his labours has been made public ; and that what 
he considered as an improved text has appeared under the 
form of a new and distinct edition of it. But were an¬ 
other version of the New Testament to be prepared for pub¬ 
lic use, which would be the text translated ? The received 
text or that of Griesbach ? I think without much hesitation 
we may affirm, that it would be the former : for surely 
prudence and propriety would point out, that a text so 
lohg established, and to which other translations are ac¬ 
commodated, would in such a case be preferred to one, 
how ingeniously soever constructed, the authority of which 
must depend upon the.critical judgment of a single indivi¬ 
dual. 

If then after so much has been done to improve the re¬ 
ceived text of the New Testament, we should still con¬ 
ceive ourselves acting unwisely if we departed from it, 
supposing that another public translation was deemed ad- 
viseable, is it possible, that, embarked in a similar under- 

oo 2 


494 


REMARKS UPON A 


taking, vve could think ourselves at liberty to depart from 
the received text of the Old Testament, for the improve¬ 
ment of which nothing effectual or satisfactory has ever 
been done, or even attempted ? 

Such then is the outline of the reasoning which I have 
adopted in confutation of the two leading points presumed 
on the other side. I shall now shortly allude to the no¬ 
tice which I have taken of the two latter ; but indeed 
these, correctly speaking, are only one ; for if the know¬ 
ledge of Hebrew has been considerably augmented in mo¬ 
dern times by a more extended cultivation of Oriental lit¬ 
erature in general, it must follow, that the knowledge 
which was possessed by preceding translators was at best 
but defective. 

My object however here has principally been to demon¬ 
strate, that if much has been attempted in theory, little has 
been really effected in practice; I mean, that the collateral 
elucidation of the Hebrew language by a comparison with 
others of a similar origin has produced little or no impor¬ 
tant practical results. From the constant flux in the sig¬ 
nification of all words in all languages it must prove a task 
of no common difficulty to distinguish between their prima¬ 
ry and secondary significations ; to trace up their ever 
varying meanings to their sources ; and to determine, with 
any tolearble degree of certainty, from what precise foun¬ 
tain this or that particular signification originally sprung, 
as well as how far it continued its course in one, or sud¬ 
denly ceased to flow in another, kirrdred language. Nor 
does it appear, I have remarked, in the least probable that 
the primary senses of the same words should be their 
most frequent senses in modern Arabic , while their se¬ 
condary are their most frequent in ancient Hebrew. 

But in truth the whole hypothesis seems more adapted 
to illustrate the philosophy- of the Hebrew language, if 
philosophical we suppose its construction to be, than to 
pursue the capricious deviations of colloquial usage and 


NEW TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. 


495 


expression. And as I cannot perceive, that the best Lexi¬ 
cons of our own days, etymological refinements alone ex¬ 
cepted, differ in their exposition of words from the best 
Lexicons in the days of our forefathers, I do not see in 
what respect our practical knowledge of the language ex¬ 
ceeds theirs. Neither indeed can I admit, if our lexicogra¬ 
phers, entangled in the web of critical theory, even proceed¬ 
ed to change the established meanings of words in He¬ 
brew, because those words have such meanings in one of 
the sister dialects, that a translator would be excusable, 
who should be seduced by their example from the plain 
and direct path of approved interpretation. 

The principal arguments, which I have controverted, 
and those, which I have advanced in refutation of them, 
are applicableto all translations ; but in conclusion I shall 
now advert to the peculiarities of our own. This how¬ 
ever will require no long or formal discussion ; as its 
merits in point of composition have been sufficiently ex¬ 
tolled on the other side ; extolled by every advocate for 
a new version, who has been distinguished, as well by 
taste, as by talents and erudition. 

That it is a translation from the Hebrew alone, and also 
as correct a one, as the alleged deficiency of the times in 
Oriental literature would permit, has been universally ac¬ 
knowledged ; except indeed by a single eccentric author 
of the present day, whose vain and wandering intellect 
seems to be in a constant aphelion, enlightened possibly 
by a solar influence, unknown to all preceding translators, 
but certainly not by the critical luminary of any visible 
system. The very circumstance, which he imputes to our 
translators as a dereliction of their professed object to 
translate from the Hebrew only, viz. that they appear oc¬ 
casionally to have consulted the various versions of ancient 
and modern times, instead of detracting, as he conceives, 
from their characters and talents, adds lustre to both. For 
uninfluenced by the childish vanity of imagining, that no 


496 


REMARKS UPON A 


translators of any period possessed a correct knowledge of 
the Hebrew language, except themselves, and anxious not 
to misapprehend, where missapprehension might be impor¬ 
tant, they duly examined, and scrupulously weighed, the 
treasures of combined wisdom, with which the labours of 
their predecessors in the same undertaking had furnished 
them. They translated from the Hebrew, like tnost of 
those who had gone before them ; and were only guilty 
of thinking it possible, that the wise and good of former 
times might have had some little knowledge of the lan¬ 
guage, which they undertook to translate. 

In point of expression our authorized version has receiv¬ 
ed the most marked testimonies of approbation from the 
very writers, who were desirous of some new translation 
to supersede it. Its style, says Bishop Lowth, “is not 
only excellent in itself, but has taken possession of our ear, 
and of our taste.” Dr. White remarks, that “general 
fidelity to its original is hardly more its characteristic than 
sublimity itself; ” that “ the English language acquired 
new dignity by it;” that “ it is still considered as the 
standard of our tongue ;” and that it possesses ‘ l a style 
consecrated not more by custom, than by its own native 
propriety.”* Ought not the judgment of writers like these 
to outweigh on this point that of those wild projectors, 
who with all the tinsel of modern diction, are desirous of 
embellishing its phraseology, and of adding, what they 
conceive to be, brilliancy to its periods ? 

But it has been said, that it retains many obsolete, and 
some indelicate, expressions. To remove these, howev r er, 
I should scarcely conceive the) appointment of a formal 
committee of critics and divines by public authority to be 
requisite ; or if requisite, certainly not the appointment of 
a committee, invested with unlimited powers of emenda¬ 
tion beyond the specific object in view. Indeed several 


* Sec Chap. i. 


NEtV TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. 497 

antiquatad modes of expression as moe for more, sith for 
since, &c., have already been corrected in our printed edi¬ 
tions of the Bible without any authority whatsoever ; sole¬ 
ly under the influence of what at the time predominated 
as the customary usage of the English language. Pilking- 
ton has given a list of such obsolete terms,* some of which, 
for the reason, I presume, above given, have been since 
altered ; I nevertheless cannot agree with him in thinking, 
that the “ uncouth and obsolete words” of the present ver¬ 
sion, were they far more numerous than they appear to be, 
imperiously point out the expediency of a new one, in order 
to give Scripture the advantage of what is stated to be im¬ 
provements in our language, and to sooth the disgusted ear 
of modern delicacy. He observes ; “ The uncouth and 
obsolete words and expressions, that are met with in the 
English version of the Bible, are generally intelligible, 
and convey the ideas the writer had in view ; but as our 
language is very much improved inpoliteness and correct¬ 
ness since that version was made, it may properly be 
wished, that the Scrptures might receive every advantage, 
which the improved state of our langaage can give them; 
especially as the delicacy of some people’s ears is pre¬ 
tended to be disgusted with every uncouth sound.X 

Against a conformity with modern orthography and 
mere verbal expression who could object ? But against 
the propriety and expediency of a new translation for the 
reasons assigned by Pilkington I utterly protest. 

Upon the whole then I contend, that, whatsoever may 
be the defects of the present version, they are in them¬ 
selves unimportant? and that no sufficient cause has 
been made out to warrant the attempt at a new version, 
under the sanction of authority, on their account alone. 
Had a new version been undertaken, at the time it was 
proposed, I am persuaded, that another would have been. 


* Remarks, p. 115. 


t Page 114, 


498 REMARKS UPON A NEW TRANSLATION, &C. 

I 

t - 

by this time again necessary, upon principles of a more 
rigid and chastised interpretation; and should a new one 
be even now attempted, I am convinced that it would not 
exceed in point of general accuracy and fidelity that which 
has been already executed. Were a greater elegance of 
composition, and superior degree of philological refine¬ 
ment attainable, to gratify the ear of modern laste, and to 
correspond with the supposed improvements of modern 
criticism, it may well be doubted, whether these improve¬ 
ments, if improvements they could be justly called, would 
not prove more injurious than beneficial to the cause, which 
they were intended to promote. The language of our pre¬ 
sent version has the full tide of popular opinion strongly 
in its favour ; it exhibits a style appropriately biblical, and 
is distinguished by a general simplicity of expression, 
which the most uncultivated mind may comprehend, and 
the most cultivated admire. It is a translation in possession 
of characteristical merits, which might be extinguished, 
but cannot be augmented, by principles of transitory taste 
and emphemeral criticism ; a translation which with all its 
imperfections in whatsoever part of Scripture the compari¬ 
son be made, is superior to every other in our own, and 
inferior to none in any foreign, language. 


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PREFACE. 


From causes too unimportant for public enumeration, it 
happened, that the Author of the following pages possess¬ 
ed neither time nor inclination minutely to discuss the 
merits or demerits of that Version, which is the object of 
his present strictures, at its first appearance. Indeed he 
neglected the examination of it altogether till very lately, 
when his attention was irresistibly attracted to it by the 
Remarks of Mr. Nares, ably exposing, particularly upon 
doctrinal topics, many of its perverse inaccuracies and fal¬ 
lacious deductions. The scope of these Remarks appear¬ 
ed, it is true, sufficiently comprehensive. Still however, 
he conceived, that certainly misrepresentations of no in¬ 
considerable moment required a more full and distinct, as 
well as different, refutation ; and such a one has he now 
attempted. It will be seen, that with the theological argu¬ 
ment of the New Version he has interfered as little as pos¬ 
sible, the specific object in his view being wholly critical. 
Not indeed that he has combated every erroneous position 
or incorrect conclusion which might have been fairly op¬ 
posed ; but he has contented himself with selecting a few 
of those which are most prominent and least venial. 

He does not apologize for differing upon points of criti¬ 
cism, either from the Heterodox, or from the Orthodox. 
A critic is of no party ; but, solely attached to philologi¬ 
cal truth, censures without reserve obliquities of judgment 
wheresoever he detects them, whether ushered into notice 
by Trinitarians of rank and character, or turned loose upon 
the world by an anonymous committee of obscure Unita¬ 
rians. 


p p 2 








LAURENCE 


ON THE 


SJMttartau ©ersston octueji. ©estaroent 


CHAP. I. 

Introductory Remarks. 

When a work appears under the singular title of i( The 
New Testament in an improved Version, upon the basis 
of Archbishop Newcome’s new Translation, with a cor¬ 
rected Text, and Notes Critical and Explanatory, publish¬ 
ed by a Society for promoting Christian Knowledge and 
the practice of Virtue, by the distribution of Books it 
seems natural to enquire into the religious persuasion of 
the authors. This indeed is not explicitly avowed either 
in the Title Page or the Introduction ; but the transla¬ 
tion itself in every part, and the uniform tenor of the 
notes, sufficiently display it. The improved Version is 
nothing more than a new version so improved as to be ren¬ 
dered conformable with the tenets of Unitarianism. In 
proof of this assertion, i(. is unnecessary to quote more 
than the following passage, from the comment on 1 John, 
i. 1. “ It is to the unwearied and successful labours of this 
pious and learned person, (the venerable Theophilus Lind- 



504 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


say,) whose life and doctrine have exhibited the most per¬ 
fect model in modern times of the purity and simplicity of 
apostolical Christianity, in conjunction with those of his 
able coadjutor, Jebb, Priestly, Wakefield, and others, that 
the Christian world is indebted for that clear and discrimi¬ 
nating light, which has of late years been diffused over 
the obscurities of the sacred Scriptures, and which promis¬ 
es, at no very distant period, to purify the Christian reli¬ 
gion from those numerous and enormous corruptions , 
which have so long disfigured its doctrines, and imped¬ 
ed its progress.” Hence the nature of that elucidation, 
which is diffused over the obscurities of Scripture in this 
Version may be distinctly perei ved. 

Nor will the Unitarians, I presume disown the produc¬ 
tion ; and if in their justification they simply allege the 
propriety of their possessing a translation of the New Tes¬ 
tament, more consonant, in their own judgment, with the 
sense of Scripture than that of the Establishment, they cer¬ 
tainly advance a position which few will be disposed to con¬ 
trovert. But is it quite consistent with that open and manly 
conduct, upon which they peculiarly pride themselves, to 
sink their characteristieal denomination, and simply to 
describe themselves as “a Society for thepromtion of Chris- 
ian knowledge and the practice of virtue by tbe distribu¬ 
tion of books ; who, in order “ to supply the English 
reader with a more correct text of the New Testament than 
has yet appeared,”* had fixed its choice and founded its 
improvement “upon the excellent translation of the late 
most reverend Dr. William Newcome, Archbishop of Ar¬ 
magh, and pri mate of all I relend, a worthy successor of the 
venerable and learned Archbishop Usher ;”t to enter the 
combat in disguise, and advance to the attack in an arch T 
iepiscopal coat of mail ? And is it true to the extent appa¬ 
rently professed both in the Title Page and Introduction, 


* Introduction, p. 5. 


4 Ibid. p. 4. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OE THE N. T. 


405 


that Archbishop Newcome’s version really forms the 
groundwork of this ? The translators indeed say, that they 
have assumed it as a principle not to deviate from the Arch¬ 
bishop’s version “but where it appeared to be necessary to 
the correction of error or inaccuracy in the text, the lan¬ 
guage, the construction, or the sense.”* But instances of 
such an exception unfortunately so often occur, that there 
is scarcely a single page without one or more, and not 
many without numerous deviations from it. Nor are these 
deviations simply confined to mere verbal errors or inaccu 
racies, but extend to the most important doctrines, so as 
uniformly to divest the Archbishop’s translation of every 
expression hostile to the Unitarian Creed ; deviations, 
which could not have incidentally taken place, but must 
have been originally projected. For we are expressly told, 
that the design of the Translators, as well as of the So¬ 
ciety, was, to supply the English reader with a more cor¬ 
rect text of the New Testament than has yet appeared : as 
also, by divesting the sacred volume of the technical 
phrases of a systematic theology which has no foundation 
in the scriptures themselves, to render the New Testa¬ 
ment more generally intelligible, or at least to preclude 
many sources of error : and by the assistance of the notes, 
to enable the judicious and attentive reader to understand 
Scripture phraseology, and to form a just idea of true and 
uncorrupted Christianity . ”t What. Un itarians mean,when 
they allude to a systematic theology , which has no foun¬ 
dation in the Scriptures and also to true and uncorrupt¬ 
ed Christianity, no man can for a moment doubt, who 
has but slightly glanced his eye upon any of their avowed 
publications. Instead therefore of being that which at first 
view it may appear to the general reader, a Version under¬ 
taken from no party motives, and conducted upon no party 
principles, the very reverse seems to be the fact. 


* Introduction, p. 4. 


f Introduction, p. 5, 6. 


50G 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


The text from which this translation is professedly made, 
is the amended one of Griesbach : a text which is too 
well known, and too highly respected, to require more 
than a simple notice of its excellency, and the superior- 
correctness of which is universally acknowledged. But 
why in an English translation so long a history is given of 
the received Greek text, and its critical improvements, of 
Greek manuscripts, and of the different editions of the Greek 
Testament, it seems difficult, to conjecture. Could it pos¬ 
sibly be to take the chance of impressing an idea, that the 
established translation, which confessedly follows the re¬ 
ceived text, is too corrupt to be used as a rule of faith ? 
This however it would be more easy to insinuate than to 
prove. 

Among the various modes which have been adopted for 
the improvement of the received text, attempts, it is ob¬ 
served, have been made to correct it by critical conjee - 
ture. Upon this subject the following remarks occur ; 
“This is a remedy which ought never to be applied but 
with the utmost caution, especially as we are furnished 
with so many helps for correcting the tsxt from manuscripts, 
versions, and ecclesiastical writers. This caution is 
doubly necessary when the proposed emendation affects a 
text which is of great importance in theological contro¬ 
versy, as the judgment of the critic will naturally he 
biassed in favour of his own opinions. It ought perhaps to 
be laid down as a general rule,that the received text is in no 
case to be altered by critical or at least by theological con¬ 
jecture, how ingenious and plausible soever.” So far the 
reasoning is correct, and perfectly conformable with the 
established maxims of the most eminent critics : but what 
follows? “Nevertheless (it is added) there is no reason why 
critical conjectures should be entirely excluded from the 
New Testament, any more than from the works of any 
other ancient Author ; and some very plausible conjec¬ 
tures of no inconsiderable importance have been suggested 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


507 


by men of great learning and sagacity, which, to say the 
least, merit very attentive consideration. See particularly 
John i. 1. vi. 4, and Romans ix. 5.”* and a reference is 
made to Marsh’s Michaelis, vol. ii. c. 10. Here is a mani¬ 
fest qualification of the proceeding remark. Whatsoever 
ambiguity then may be supposed to exist in the idea of a 
general rule which is universal in its application, it is 
certain that the Authors of the New Version only mean, 
by so expressing themselves, a rule which is in most cases 
to be observed, but which may in some be violated ; and, by 
way of distinctly pointing out the nature of their exception, 
they refer to John i. 1. vi.4, and Romans ix. 5. The second 
reference indeed is not very important ; but the first and 
third relate to theological conjectures, inimical to the doc¬ 
trine of Christ’s Divinity. The first consists in the sub¬ 
stitution of ©sx for ©sos in the clause xai Qeog v)v 6 Aoyo tf, and 
the second in reading wv 6 for 6 wv in the passage 6 uv etfi 
-ffavrwv ©sos, so as by this transposition to render its sense, 
“ of whom was God, who is over all necessarily 
precluding the interpretation usually affixed to these words. 
What then is their distinction ? The general rule, which 
in no case admits theological conjecture, how ingeniously 
and plausible soever it be, ought not, it seems, to stand in 
the way of any unauthorized emendations of the sacred 
text fvaourable to the Unitarian hypothesis : but do they 
mean to extend the same indulgent exception to Trinita¬ 
rian criticism ? Or do they conceive, that it is only the 
judgment of the Trinitarian critic which is likely to be 
biassed by individual opinion? 

But, in corroboration of what they advance, they refer the 
reader to Marsh’s Michaelis, vol. ii. c* x. In this chapter, 
which is entitled <£ Conjectural Emendations of the Greek 
Testament.” and upon which their whole reasoning, one 
might suppose, was founded, it is singular that Michaelis 


* Introduction, p. 18, 19. 


SOS CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 

reprobates, in the strongest terms, all theological conjec¬ 
ture whatsoever, and that for this obvious reason ; because 
“a Theologian whose business it is to form his whole system 
of faith and manners from the Bible, cannot with propriety 
assume previously any system of theology, by which he 
may regulate the sacred text ; but must adopt that text 
which is confirmed by original documents, and thence de¬ 
duce his theological system.* Nor is this all. In direct 
opposition to the sentiments of those who quote him, and 
in the beginning of that very chapter to which they refer, 
he thus unequivocally expresses himself: “ It must be 
evident to every man, that the New Testament would be 
a very uncertain rule of life and manners, and indeed 
WHOLLY UNFIT TO BE USED AS A STANDARD OF RELIGION, 

if it were allowable, as in the practice oj several Soci- 
nians, to apply critical conjecture in order to establish the 
tenets of our own party. For instance ; if, in order to 
free ourselves from a superstitious doctrine, on the suppo¬ 
sition that the divinity of Christ is ungrounded, we were 
at liberty to change, without any authority, 0;o; yv b Aoyog, 
John i. 1, into Sss rjv o Aoyo;, and 6 «v stti oravrwv ©so;, Rom. 
ix. 5, into wv 6 sir j oravTwv ©so;, the Bible would become so 
very uncertain, that every man might believe or disbe¬ 
lieve, as best suited his own principles.’*! 

Could these writers have possibly read the preceding 
passage when they made their appeal to the authority of 
Michaelis ? If they had, they must surely have perceived 
that Michaelis is directly against the n ; and that the very 
conjectural emendations, originally proposed by the Soci- 
nian theorists Crell and Schlichting , which they particu¬ 
larly notice as suggested by men of great learning and 
sagacity , and as meriting, to say the least, very atten¬ 
tive consideration , he directly censures in the most point¬ 
ed terms, and expressly brings forward to illustrate the 


* Michaelis, vol. ii. p. 413. 


f Michaelis, vol. ii. p. 58”. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


509 


position, that theological conjecture is never admissible. 
If, conscious of opposing an established maxim, which 
ought in no instance to be violated, they wished to shelter 
themselves from the storm of critical reproof, the gabardine 
of Michaelis was most unfortunately selected indeed as a 
place of refuge. 

To the passage which I have just quoted, from the first 
section of the chapter referred to, I will add one or two more 
from the last section of the same chapter, in order to place 
the opinion of Michaelis in a still clearer point of view. 
“ The only plausible argument which an advocate for theo¬ 
logical conjecture might use, not so much indeed to con¬ 
vince himself of the justice of his cause , as to perplex 
his opponents , is the following ; namely, that the New 
Testament has been so corrupted by the ruling party, 
which calls itself Orthodox, that the genuine doctrine of 
Christ and his Apostles is no longer to be found in it. But 
there is not the least room for a suspicion of this kind, as 
we have so great a number of manuscripts, versions, and 
ecclesiastical writings, in which the New Testament is quot¬ 
ed, of every age and every country.”* And in proof of 
his assertion, among other things, he remarks, that “ the 
passages which afforded the most perplexity to the mem¬ 
bers of the ruling Church are still extant in manuscripts > 
versions, and editions of the New Testament ; whereas 
the spurious passage, 1. John v. 7. though the Orthodox 
seem to think it of the most importance, has never had 
the good fortune to find admittance into any Greek manu¬ 
script, or ancient version.” If the compilers of this Intro¬ 
duction, who not only in the instance before me, but in 
almost every page, refer to the writings of Michaelis, will 
not admit the validity of the argument in the preceding 
extracts, they may perhaps feel the force of the following 
powerful appeal to Unitarian consistency : “ As critical 


* Michaelis, vol. ii. p. 418. 
Q Q 2 


3io 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


conjectures,” observes the same author, have been princi¬ 
pally made by those, who, in the language of the Church, 
are termed Heretics, I will invent one or two examples of 
the same kind in the name of the Orthodox, and ask those 
of the opposite party, whether they would admit them as 
lawful conjectures. For instance, suppose I should alter on 
o nao-yjp fxx (xsi^wv pa sgi, John xiv. 18. to on 6 tfarrip pa ssi, or 
on o narrjp pa p.sv sgw, in order to be freed from a text that 
implies an inequality between the Father and the Son : or if 
I should read 1 John v. 20. in the following manner, srog 
6 vlos s siv 6 aXrj&ivos, ©sog, in order to show more distinctly 
the divinity of Christ; I think the Heterodox would ex¬ 
claim, He is either extremely ignorant, or , by having 
recourse to such miserable artifices, acknowledges the 
badness of his cause. But the Heterodox, as well as the 
Orthodox, must appear before the impartial tribunal of cri¬ 
ticism, where there is no respect to persons, and where 
it is not allowed for one party to take greater liberties than 
the other.”* As it is impossible to expose their reasoning 
more strongly than the Critic himself has done, to whom 
they appeal for support, and that even in the very chapter^ 
which they quote, I shall add nothing more upon the sub¬ 
ject, hut leave them to enjoy, as they can, the testimony 
of Michaelis. 


CHAP. II. 

Authenticity of the two first Chapters of 
St. Matthew. 

In the remarks which I propose to make upon this New 
Version, it is not my intention to raise the shield of theo- 


... . * 


* Michaelis, vol. ii. p. 415. 



UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


511 


logical warfare against those “ critics and commentators of 
the highest reputation” as they are termed,* that is, against 
the redoubted champions of Unitarianism, from whose 
works the Authors profess to have principally collected 
their notes from the illustration of difficult and doubtful 
pages ; but to confine my observations as much as possible 
to critical questions : and, as they do not presume to hold 
it up as a faultless translation, but merely as an improved 
version, still, no doubt, susceptible of far greater improve¬ 
ment, which they will rejoice to see undertaken and ac¬ 
complished by abler hands ;”t I shall not drag into view 
every little error and inaccuracy which the severity of cri¬ 
ticism may discover, but consider those only which are 
most offensive and most prominent. 

“If this Version,” they remark, “posseses any merit, 
it is that of being translated from the most correct text of 
the original which has hitherto been published.Yet, 
notwithstanding this and other similar assertions, “the in¬ 
quisitive, liberal, and judicious reader,” whose approbation 
they seem assured of conciliating, scarcely opens the Gos¬ 
pel of St. Matthew before he finds three pages together 
printed in italics, an intimation, he is told, that the pas¬ 
sages themselves are all of doubtful authority ; and, when 
he gets to St Luke’s, almost seven more of the same des¬ 
cription. The reasons assigned for the propriety of this 
rejection may possibly satisfy the inquisitive, liberal, and 
judicious of their own communion, whose minds may be 
prepared by a previous intimacy with the writings of 
Priestley and his coadjutors, but will never, I am persuad¬ 
ed, convince the inquisitive, liberal, and judicious, if such 
can be admitted to exist, of any other communion. 

Being repeatedly informed that this Version is adapted 
to the “admirable” text of Griesbach, as given in the 

* Introduction, p. 4. f Introduction, p. 30. 

\ Ibid. p. 8. 


512 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


last edition of his Greek Testament, “an edition of unri¬ 
valled excellence and importance, the publication of which 
will constitute a memorable era in the history of Scripture 
criticism,’’* we naturally turn to Griesbach for the autho¬ 
rity of this bold step, but in vain $ for there the doubtful 
pages (as they are denominated) appear in the genuine text 
without the slightest hint of their supposed illegitimacy. 
Indeed one of his invariable rules in the regulation of his 
corrections very properly was, nil mutetur e conjectura 
nil sine testium, nempe codicum, versionum, Patrum, auc- 
toritate.”! Perhaps then it may be said, that the transla¬ 
tors themselves, who certainly seem to speak of ancient 
manuscripts, and other documents of the kind with much 
familiarity, may have had the good fortune to discover 
what escaped the search of the indefatigable Griesbach. 
But here again we are foiled ; for a note informs us, that 
these passages are certainly to be found “in all the manu¬ 
scripts and versions, which are now extant.”f Upon 
what possible principle then can it be, that they are thus 
pilloried, and exposed in an English translation to popular 
contempt and fury ? When we recollect that they contain 
an account of the miraculous conception of our Saviour, 
and that Priestley, with others of the “ clear and discrimi¬ 
nating” class of writers, “who of late years have diffused 
so much light over the obscurities of the sacred Scriptu¬ 
res,” have thought proper to reject them, we cannot be 
long at a loss to divine the principle and the motive : but 
as a decision is not passed against their authenticity with¬ 
out some show of argument in the notes, the best, it is to 
be presumed, which Unitarian reading can supply, and as 
the question itself is one of considerable importance, I shall 
be the more particular in my remarks upon this subject. 

The portion or St. Matthew’s Gospel which is thus stig- 

* Introduction, p. 23. f Prolegomena, p. 83, 
t New Version, p. 2. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


513 


matized, consists of the whole of the two first chapters, 
with the single exception of the Genealogy at the com¬ 
mencement. 

The critical authority adduced for the retention of the 
Genealogy, and the rejection of the remainder of these 
two chapters, is stated in the following terms : “ Epipha- 
nius says, that Cerinthus and Carpocrates, who used the 
Gospel of the Ebioniles, which was probably the original 
Gospel of Matthew, written in the Hebrew language for 
the use of the Jewish believers, argued from the Genealo¬ 
gy at the beginning of the Gospel, that Christ was the 
son of Joseph and Mary ; but that the Ebionites had taken 
away even the Genealog} r , beginning their Gospel with 
these words ; i And it came to pass in the days of Herod 
the king &c.’ See Epiph. Haeres. 30. N. 13. Jones 
on the Canon, vol. i. part ii. chap. 25. It is probable 
therefore that the first sixteen verses of this chapter 
are genuine ; and that they were found at least in the 
copies of Cerinthus and Carpocrates.The re¬ 

mainder of this chapter, and the whole of the second, are 
printed in Italics, as an intimation that they are of doubt¬ 
ful authority. They are indeed to be found in all the ma¬ 
nuscripts and versions which are extant; but from the tes¬ 
timony of Epiphanius and Jerome we are assured, that 
they were wanting in the copies used by the Nazarenes 
and Ebionites, that is, by the ancient Hebrew Christians, 
for whose instruction probably this Gospel was originally 
written, and to whom the account of the miraculous con¬ 
ception of Jesus Christ could not have been unacceptable, 
if it had been found in the genuine narrative.”* 

Before I proceed to the examination of the authorities 
cited, it will be proper to notice an ambiguous assertion oc¬ 
curring in the first paragraph, viz. that the Gospel of the 
Ebioniles was the original Gospel of Matthew, written 


* New Version, p. 1 , 2. 



514 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


in the Hebrew language for the use of the Jewish believ¬ 
ers.” If this assertion be intended to convey the simple 
persuasion of the translators themselves, it will rest on no 
solid basis, and consequently require no particular refuta¬ 
tion : but if they applied it to Epiphanius, an application 
which seems to arise from the natural connexion of the 
whole, it may be necessary to remark, that they certainly 
attribute to the Father an opinion the very reverse oi that 
which he maintained. The words of Epiphanius are 
these: Ev tw yuvieag'’ avroig EuayysXiw xowa MowSaiov ovopu^opsvp, 
'^X oXco 8s crXr)£S£a<r«, aXXa vsvoSrsvpsv'p xa< Tjxgojrripiaffpsvoj, 'Efe^aixov 
8s th<to mXstfi, eptpeger ai, &c.* This is thus translated by- 
Jones, to whom also reference is made, most probably for 
the convenience of the mere English reader. “ In that 
Gospel which they (i. e. the Ebionites) have called the 
Gospel according to St. Matthew, which is not entire and 
perfect, but corrupted and curtailed , and which they 
call the Hebrew Gospel, it is written &c.” Now is it not 
hence apparent, that Epiphanius, instead of considering it 
as “ the original Gospel of Matthew, written in the He¬ 
brew language for the use of the Jewish believers,” point¬ 
edly stigmatized it as an imperfect spurious, (vsvoSsup.svw il- 
legitimatized,) mutilated copy ? But the translators per¬ 
haps, as I before observed, might have intended to take 
the responsibility of the assertion solely upon themselves ; 
in which case I will only remind them, that they auupt the 
very opinion of the celebrated Toland which “ the learn¬ 
ed ” Jeremiah Jones, as they justly describe a favourite 
author, (Introduction, P. 7.) formerly reprobated in the 
strongest terms.t 

* Hseres. 30. {. 13. 

f Toland, it seems, not only maintained that the Gospel of the 
Ebionites was the origmal Gospel of St. Matthew, and that both the 
Ebionites and Nazarenes were the true ancient Hebrew Christians; 
but that the forged Acts of the Apostles, which the Ebionites also used, 
were a portion of genuine Scripture. After giving Epiphanius’s ac- 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


515 


If I understand the ground of their argument in this case 
correctly? it is precisely this. We are assured by Epipha- 
nius and Jerome, that the two first chapters of St. Mat¬ 
thew’s Gospel were wanting in a Gospel supposed to be 

count of the latter production, Jeremiah Jones adds the following se¬ 
vere reflections: “ Part of this fragment is produced by Mr. Toland, 
in his Original Plan or Scheme of Christianity according to the Ebi¬ 
onites, both in Greek and English; nor is it strange that a person of 
Mr. Toland’s profession should grace his Scheme with a passage so 
much to his purpose, I mean, of abolishing the doctrines of Christianity , 
which are agreed upon by all Christians, and introducing his most ri¬ 
diculous and impious Scheme of Nazarcne, or Jewish, or Ebioniie, or 
, Mahometan, or (which is the undoubted truth) of no Christianity at 
all. Did Mr. Toland and his friends, in these their vile attacks upon 
so excellent and divine a constitution, not quibble, and juggle, and 
prevaricate, as they upon all occasions do, in their citations out of the 
old records of Christianity, (a crime which they are ever forward to 
charge upon others, who are much more clear of it,) I should excuse 
myself and the reader from the trouble of any remarks upon them, 
leaving them to their slavish infidelity; but when I observe a person 
ransacking and mustering together all the silly trumpery of the ancient 
heretics, grossly misrepresenting the books he cites, only with design 
to gratify a bigoted humour against the Christian religion, I am ob¬ 
liged, by my regards to the profession I make of the name of Jesus, 
to lay open such vile imposture. Of this I have given several instan¬ 
ces already from Mr. Toland’s books. The passage I am now upon 
out of Epiphanius furnishes me with another. He would persuade 
us the Ebionites or Nazarenes ( a most ridiculous sort of heretics, who 
scarcely deserved the name of Christians, as I shall shew hereafter) were 
the only true and genuine Christians, consequently their books must be 
the truest and most genuine accounts of the Christian affairs; and so, 
for instance, must these Acts, which we are now discussing ; because 
it so much vilifies St. Paul, and exposes his doctrine. But, as Dr. 
Mangey has justly remarked, this is most insupportable impudence in 
him, to cite as genuine a wretched forgery of the Ebionites. One can 
scarce tell whether his intention of vilifying St. Paul, or the method 
he useth to do it, be the more detestable ; this sorry unbelieving Cri¬ 
tic governs his skill by his wicked principles, and has no other way 
to judge of spurious and genuine books, than by their opposition to 
Christianity.” Jones on the Canonical Authority of the New Testa- 


516 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


that of St. Matthew, used by the Nazarenes and Ebionites, 
that is, by those who are conjectured to have been the an¬ 
cient Hebrew Christians, and for whose instruction St. 
Matthew’s Gospel is also conjectured to have been writ¬ 
ten : the whole two chapters therefore are prima facie to 
be rejected ; but Epiphanius asserts, that Cerinthus and 
Carpocrates, who used the same Gospel, admitted the 
Genealogy at the commencement, which the Ebionites 
had taken away : therefore the Genealogy alone is to 
be retained, and the remainder of the two chapters to be 
rejected. 

I shall not undertake to refute the illogical reasoning 
manifested in the conduct of this argument, because it is in 
itself sufficiently obvious, and has already been exposed 
nor enter into an unnecessary discussion respecting the 
proper principle upon which the Genealogy is to be admit¬ 
ted, satished that it is on both sides declared to be genu¬ 
ine ; but confine myself to the critical statements upon 
which the rejection of the remainder of these chapters is 
grounded. 

We are assured, the authors of this work observe, both 
by Epiphanius and Jerome, that the two first chapters were 
wanting in the Hebrew Gospel used by the Nazarenes and 
Ebionites. When I found them in the introduction, p. 14 . 
describing the celebrated Ephrem, who lived in the fourth 
century, as a writer of some note in the sixth, I began to 

ment, Part II. Chap. 17. It may indeed be observed, that the lan¬ 
guage of this passage is disgraced by an immoderate asperity, and 
that the opinion contained in it is unsupported by authority; to both 
of which remarks I fully accede; only subjoining with regard to the 
latter point, that although the opinion be unsupported here, it is very 
sufficiently proved in other parts of the work, and that* if it rested 
solely upon the credit of the assertor, still, as being the opinion of 
the learned Jeremiah Jones, it would be entitled to at least as mucli 
respect as the opposite opinion of the authors of the New Version. 

* Nare’s Remarks on this Version, p. 5, f>. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


517 


. suspect that they were very little conversant with the 
works of theFathers ;* and this suspicion seems confirmed 
in the present instance, by their attributing to Jerome an 
assertion which he never made. Every thing advanced 
by Jerome and others, upon the subject of the Gospel in 
question, has been carefully collected by Grabe, in his 
Spicilegium Patrum, vol. i. p. 15—31 ; by Fabrieius, 
in his Codex Apocryphus N. T. vol. i. p. 346—359, and 
355—370 ; and also by Jones, in the chapter of his work 
to which they themselves refer : and certainly in neither 
of these collections does any thing similar to what they 
say of Jerome appear. That therefore, which has escaped 
the diligent investigation of Fabrieius and Jeremiah Jones, 
has scarcely, I presume, been discovered by them. Indeed 
a direct negative may here be assumed with the greater 
confidence, because, as I shall subsequently shew, Jerome 
himself asserted the very reverse of their position. 

The assurance therefore, that these chapters were reject¬ 
ed by the Nazarenes and Ebionites, solely rests upon the 
authority of Epiphanius. The words alluded to are 
these ; Oi/roi Ss aXXa <nva Siuvovvrco, tfupctxo^avrss yag <rous naga 
<ru MarSaip ysvsaXoyias, ap^ovTca agyriv ug ir^o- 

sttfov, Xsyovrss’ on sysvsro (pyffiv, sv rais respects 'H gudx fiatnXsus 

* Are they aware that the works of the ancient heretics no¬ 
where exist but as they are quoted in those of the Fathers ? They 
certainly seem to put this point a little dubiously, when, in describ¬ 
ing the means of correcting the received text, they say, “ The works 
of those writers who are called heretics, such as Valentinian, Mar- 
cion, and others, are as useful in ascertaining the value of a reading 
as those of the Fathers, who are entitled Orthodox; for the heretics 
were often more learned and acute, and equally honest.” Introd. 
p. 18. If the ponderous volumes of the Fathers are deemed to be in 
themselves but of little intrinsic value, they surely deserve to be in¬ 
vestigated more accurately than they seem to have been by these 
writers, were it only for the discovery of that pearl above all price, 
according to their estimation, the genuine Christianity of the reputed 
heretics of antiquity. 

R R 2 


518 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


<rr;s Isoaias &c. which are thus rendered by Jones ; “ But 
they (viz’ the Ehionites) have quite other sentiments ; for 
they have taken away the Genealogy from Matthew, and 
they accordingly begin their Gospel with these words, It 
came to pass in the days of Herod king of Judea , fyc.” 

This prolix writer is certainly not remarkable either for 
his learning or acuteness ; qualifications, indeed, with 
which, in the judgment of Unitarians, the Fathers in ge¬ 
neral were very sparingly endowed. lie digresses most 
immoderately, and paraphrases without mercy. If his 
honesty be unimpeachable, his accuracy, at least, is more 
than suspected.* Waving however every imputation of the 
latter kind, let us put the supposition, that his assertions 
are all grounded upon the most correct knowledge and the 
minutest investigation ; and what will follow ? Only that, 
with the same breath with which he tells us that the Gospel 
of the Ebionites contained not the two first chapters of St. 

* Mosheim, in his Ecclesiastical History, holds him in the most 
sovereign contempt. He says, “ Epiplianius, Bishop of Salamis in 
the isle of Cyprus, wrote a book against all the heretics that had 
sprung up in the Church until his time. This work has little or no 
reputation, as it is full of inaccuracies and errors, and discovers al¬ 
most in every page the levity and ignorance of its author.” Vol. i. 
p. 349. The original Latin is thus expressed, “ Epiphanius Salaminae 
in Cypro Episcopus sectas Christianorum justo persecutus est volu- 
mine, at variis maculis et erroribus propter auctoris levitatem et ig- 
norantiam inusto." Hence it appears, that Mosheim considered the 
work as absolutely, branded with ignominy. One circumstance in¬ 
deed alone seems to throw an air of suspicion over this whole account 
of the Ebionites ; for Epiphanius not only derives the name of the 
sect from a person denominated Ebion, whose very existence is pro¬ 
blematical, contrary to the opinion of other writers, who derive it 
from the Hebrew word signifying poor ; but relates a story of 
Ebion and St. John, similar to what Irenseus, upon the authority of 
Tolycarp, records of Cerinthus and St. John; viz. that the Apostle, 
seeing Ebion in a bath, exclaimed, “ Let us depart hence, lest the 
building fall in, and we ourselves perish with the impious Ebion..’' 

23. Will the Unitarian admit the accuracy of this anecdote? 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


519 


Matthew, he also informs us, that it was because they 
scrupled not to curtail and mutilate the genuine production 
of that Apostle. The consequence is obvious But per¬ 
haps a distinction may be here adopted ; and the first asser¬ 
tion be termed a matter of fact, the last only a matter of 
opinion ; so that, while one is correct, the other may be 
inaccurate. I shall not adduce in reply, as I easily might, 
various points of fact advanced by Epiphanius relative to 
the doctrine of the Ebionites,* and then call upon Uni¬ 
tarian consistency for an implicit reliance upon the fidelity 
of his statements, but produce a point of fact exactly pa¬ 
rallel. Epiphanius distinctly asserts, that the Ebionites 
not only rejected the two first chapters of St. Matthew’s 
Gospel, but also the prophetical writings, and almost the 
whole of the Old Testament, with very little reservation 
indeed. His words are ; A§£aap. Ss o^oXoyxdi xai Idaux, xai 
Iaxw§, Mutf'/jv rs xai Aagwv, Iydxv re rov rx Nau^, airXug SiaSs^a- 

* Will those who pronounce the Ebionites to have been the true 
Hebrew Christians, credit the veracity of this Father, when he re¬ 
presents them as believing that God committed the government of 
this world to the Devil , of the world to come, to the Christ , and that 
the Christ , who w T as a celestial being, superior to the archangels 
themselves, descended upon, and was united to the man Jesus at his 
baptism? And yet, among other absurdities, this he precisely deli¬ 
vers as their creed; Auo Ss nvag dwigoidiv ex ©ss rsraypusvxg, Iva (xsv 
•rov Xs£iov, Iva Ss rov AiaSoAov. Kai rov /xsv Xgigov Xsyxdi rx jxsA- 
Xovrog aiwvos SiXvjcpSvai rov xXtjpov, rov Ss AiaSoXov rxrov ‘irerfigsvd'Sai rov 
aiwva, sx rpogayrg drjSsv rov rravroxparopog xara airman £xarepuv avruv. 
Kai toutou svsxa Irjdxv ysyswrjfievov sx dirspixarog avSgos Xsyovdi, xai 
smXs^svra, xai xru xara sxXoyr]v ulov 0sx xXySsvra, airo rx avuSsv 
sig aurov rjxovrog Xgigog sv siSsi irsgigepag. Ou (padxovdi Ss sx ©sou iru- 
rgog avrov ysyswrid^a i, aXXa sxndSai, ws Iva ruv ap^ayfsXuv, [xsi^ova 
Ss aurwv ovra, avrov Ss xvpiSvSiv xai ayysXuv xai iravruv viro rov rtav- 
roxearopog grSTroirjfxsvuv. Hseres. 30. i 16. And in i 14, their belief 

is expressly said to have been, that the Christ was dvvacpSsvra, 
conglutinated with the man Jesus. 


520 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


fASvov Miju (feu, ouSev re ovru peru rxrzg 6e ouxsri op,oAoyoutft Tiva ruv 

‘tgo<pr]ruv, aAAa xai avaSspaTi^so'i xai sua^scfi .• . outs 

yap dsypvrai rr)v IIsvTaTSu^ov Mwutfswg oA^v, aAAa Tiva p^para 
aToSaAAstfiv. § 18. If therefore, from the testimony of 
Epiphanius, and upon the credit of the Ebionites, a sect 
which, nevertheless, this very author describes as resem¬ 
bling that portentous pest of antiquity, the fabled Hydra, 
(tfoAuf*o£(pov TS^agiov, xai ws sitfsiv rrjz pu&SuopsvTis -ToAuxs<paAs 'Tdgas 
o(pioji5r) |wo£<p7]v sv iauTu avaruffwrfajxsvos, §. 1.) vve expunge from 
the Canon of the New Testament any portion of the Gospel 
of St. Matthew, must we not, to be consistent with our¬ 
selves, from the same testimony, and upon the same 
credit, expunge also from the Canon of the Old Testa¬ 
ment the whole body of the inspired prophets, and admit 
even the Pentateuch itself under a suspicion, that some 
parts of our existing copies have been interpolated ? Surely 
this inevitable conclusion will gratify neither side ; and 
will at least prove highly unpalatable to those Unitarians, 
who think with Mr. Stone, that “ Jewish prophecy is the 
sole criterion to distinguish between genuine and spurious 
Christian Scripture.”* 

But let us consider more minutely the character of this 
boasted Gospel of the Ebionites. The production itself is 
lost; and nothing remains of it, except a few extracts, pre¬ 
served in the writings of the Fathers. It was called “the 

* See a singular sermon under this title, preached at a Visitation 
in Essex by Mr. Stone. I have not here noticed the testimony of 
Eusebius, who remarks, that the Ebionites also rejected the Epistles of 
St.Paul whom they denominated an Apostate. Outoi <$s ts psv AtosoAs 
T’arfas Tas StfigoAas asv^rsas viyavro sivai <5siv, airogar^v atfoxaAouvrss au- 
tov tou vopou. Hist. lib. iii. c. 27. I have not noticed this circumstance, 
because the question solely turns upon the testimony of Epiphanius. 
If however we admit it, and it surely stands on higher authority than 
the other alluded to, we shall be under the necessity of rejecting a 
still larger portion of the New Testament, unless we abandon the fi¬ 
delity of Ebionite Scripture altogether. 



UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


521 


Gospel according to theHebrews,” and was certainly known 
under that title to Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Eusebi¬ 
us, and Jerome; the latter of whom, obtaining a correct 
copy of it from the Nazarenes, translated it both into Greek 
and Latin. As so much has been said upon this subject 
both by Jones and Michaelis, it seems not necessary to 
dwell upon it minutely. Clemens Alexandrinus simply 
refers to it, quoting a passage notin the Greek copy of St. 
Matthew, or of any other Gospel. Origen likewise quotes 
from it in the same way, speaking of it as not of any de¬ 
cided authority. His words are, “ Si tamen placet alicui 
suscipere illud, non ad auctoritatem , sed ad manifesta- 
tionem propositae quaestionis.” If any one be pleased to 
receive it, not as of any authority but only for the illus¬ 
tration of the present question.”* Eusebius notices, that 
it was used by the Ebonites, who, he adds, very little es¬ 
teemed any other ; <rwv Xoiifwv tfjjuxpov evuiavro Xoyov. t Jerome, 
in his catalogue of Illustrious Men, certainly seems to de¬ 
scribe it as the original Hebrew text of St. Matthew but 
in other parts of his works he represents it, in one place, 
as a Gospel which most think to be the Gospel according 
to St. Matthew, ut plerique autumant ;§ in another, as 
a Gospel which is called by many the authentic Gospel of 
St. Matthew ;|| and at the beginning of his third book 
againgt the Pelagians he considers it as a document which, 
if its authority be not admitted, may at least be used out 
of respect to it antiquity ; “ quibus testimoniis, si non 
uteris ad auctoritatem, utere saltern ad antiquitatem.”1f 
Hence Michaelis, after a particular examination of Jerome’s 
different allusions to it, says, ,£ I am far from supposing 
that Jerome took the Nazarene Gospel for the unadult e- 

* Jones on the Canon, Part II. chap. 25. } 3. 

f Ibid, i 5. J Ibid. } 13. } Ibid, i 15. - 

I] Jones on the Canon, Part II. chap. 25. i. 21. 

H Micheelis’s Introduction, vol. iii. part i. p. 132, 


522 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


rated original, as it is evident, from the quotations which 
he has made from it, that it abounded with interpola¬ 
tions.”*' And of the same opinion is Michaelis’s “ learned 
and acute translator and annotator, Dr. Herbert Marsh,” 
as the authors of this Version justly denominate a biblical 
critic of the first celebrity, who remarks, that even when 
Jerome seems to describe it as the original text of St. Mat¬ 
thew, “he does not declare that it was really St. Mat¬ 
thew’s unadulterated original. Indeed if he had suppo¬ 
sed so, he could not have used at other times the expres¬ 
sions, ‘ quod vocat-ur a plerisque Matthaei authenticum,’ 
and ‘ ut plerique autumant juxta Matthaeum.”f Indeed 
both these critics, upon a general view of the question, re¬ 
present this Gospel as evidently a garbled production, and 
by no means the true Hebrew original of St. Matthew. 
Nor in their condemnation of it do they depart from the 
decisions of preceding critics. To omit such names as 
Casaubon, Mill, Whitby, Fabricius, and Le Clerc ; the 
“ learned” Jeremiah Jones, and the “ venerable” Lardner, 
critics admired by the Unitarians, held precisely the same 
sentiments. The former writer was so fulty convinced of 
its illegitimacy, that he adduces at some length (c. 29.) 
what he considers as positive proofs that it was apocry- 

* Michcelis’s Introduction, vol. iii. part i. p. 182. 

f Michaslis’s Introduction, vol. iii. part ii. p. 134. That Jerome 
had no higher opinion of it than the. other Fathers, is asserted also by 
Jones, who makes the following remarks upon a passage or two of 
Jerome, unfavourable to its authenticity, which I have not above re¬ 
ferred to. “He (Jerome) expressly saith, It was the same with the 
Gospel entitled , acccording to the Twelve Apostles; (see c. 25. §. 15.) 
but this he expressly rejects as Apocryphal in another place, (c, 7. 
$5.) and as a book of the heretics , wrote by men destitute of the spirit 
and grace of God , without a due regard to truth , c. 7.}. 4. The same 
appears from this maimer of citing it in several of the places above, 
c. 25. For instance, in that there produced, {. 18. he introduces his 
citations thus; He who will believe the Gospel according to the He¬ 
brews.” On the Canon, vol. i. part ii. chap. 28. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


523 


phal.” The latter regarded it as a compilation subsequent 
in point of time to the genuine Gospels, principlaly indeed 
formed upon the Gospel of St. Matthew, but having insert¬ 
ed in it various “additions of things taken out of St. Luke’s, 
(and perhaps other Gospels,) and other matters, that had 
been delivered by oral tradition.”* 

That the argument however may have a due weight 
given to it in all its different bearings, I will even admit 
the external character of the document to stand as high as 
the Unitarians themselves would place it; and shall be sa¬ 
tisfied to rest my proofs wholly upon the apocryphal com¬ 
plexion of its internal character. Among other passages 
of a suspicious nature occurs the following : “ Behold the 
mother and brethren of Christ spake to him ; John the 
Baptist baptizes for the remission of sins; let us go 
and be baptized by him. He said to them, In what have 
I sinned, that I have any need to go and to be baptized 
by him ? Unless my saying this proceed perhaps from 
ignorance .”t Again, in another part, our Saviour says, 
The Holy Ghost , my mother , took me by one of my 
hairs, and led me to the great mountain Thabor.”f Will 

* Credibility of the Gospel History, vol. i. p. 185. Ed. 1748. 

f “ Ecce mater Domini et fratres ejus dicebant ei, Johannes Baptis- 
ta baptizat in remissionem peccatorum ; eamus et baptizemur ab eo. 
Dixit autem eis, Quid peccavi, ut vadam et baptizer ab eo? nisi forte 
hoc ipsum, quod dixi, ignorantia est.” Quotation from Jerome in 
Jones, ibid. i. 15. In another chapter (29th) the same author makes 
the following comment upon this quotation. The meaning of this 
passage will be best perceived from a parallel one in another apocry¬ 
phal book, entitled, The Preaching of Peter, in which it was related, 
that Christ confessed his sins, and was compelled, contrary to his own 
inclinations, by his mother Mary to submit to the baptism of John." 

1 Apn sXaSs ps y prirrip pa to ayiov tfvsupa, sv pia twv Tg%uv pa 
xai arrsvsyxs ps sis to opos to psya ©a§w£. Quotation from Origen ? 
ibid. c. 25. } 4. If certain passages are to be rejected upon the cre¬ 
dit of this document, why are not others to be inserted ? Why, for 


524 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


it be maintained, that a passage is to be received into the 
Canon of Scripture, which asserts, that our blessed Sa¬ 
viour required the baptism of John for the remission of such 
sins as he had ignorantly committed, in direct contradic¬ 
tion to the testimony of St. Paul, that he knew no sin , 
2 Cor v. 21 ? Or if it be, will not the authenticity of the 
other quotation at least be considered as dubious, in which 
the Holy Spirit is expressly termed the mother of Christ , 
and represented, in order to make the transaction more mi¬ 
raculous, as conveying him to a lofty mountain by one of 
the hairs of his head ? Can passages like these be so twist¬ 
ed by the tortuous lubricity of theological comment, as to 
elude the grasp of indignant criticism ? 

But the very commencement itself of this singular pro¬ 
duction, as it is stated by Epiphanius, sufficiently betrays 
its illegitimacy. The Translators of the New Version 
give us the following information: “The Gospel,” they 
say, of the Ebionites or Hebrews, which did not contain 
the account of the miraculous conception of Jesus, began 
in this manner ; “It came to pass in the days of Herod 
king of Judea, that John came baptizing ivith the bap¬ 
tism of repentance in the river Jordan. See Epiphani¬ 
us, and Jer. Jones.” But in the preceding note they had 
thus reasoned : “If it be true, as Luke relates, c. iii. 23. 
that Jesus w entering upon his thirtieth year in the fif¬ 
teenth year of the reign of Tiberius, he must have been 
born two years at least after the death of Herod; a cir¬ 
cumstance which alone invalidates the whole story.” Now 
it is something singular, that, while they object to the 

example, after Matthew xix. 20. in which our Saviour says to the 
rich man, “ Go and sell what thou hast, and give it to the poor, and 
come and follow me,” is not the following reading added as at least 
probable; “ The rich man hereupon began to scratch his head, (scal- 
pere caput suum,) and was displeased, &-c. ? See Jones on the Ca¬ 
non, ibid. { 5. Doubtless the same document cannot be less compe¬ 
tent to authorize an addition, than an omission. 


VNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 525 

text of St. Matthew, because it fixes our Saviour’s birth in 
the days of Herod the king, who really died, they add, 
two years before , they should at the same time contend 
for the authenticity of a document, which not only suppo¬ 
ses that Christ was born in the reign of Herod, but that 
Herod was still living when our Saviour was in his thir* 
tieth year, at the period of the Baptist’s public appearance 
in the discharge of his mission. Leaving them however 
to vindicate their own consistency, I shall confine myself 
to the simple statement of the fact. Epiphanius expressly 
declares, that the Gospel of the Ebionites began with an 
account of John’s baptizing with the baptism of repentance 
in the days of Herod , king of Judea , who, it is agreed 
on all sides, was dead many years before. If therefore 
Epiphanius’s relation be true, and this Gospel began as he 
describes it, an anachronism of an extraordinary kind is 
apparent at its very outset, which instantly subverts the 
foundation of the whole Unitarian argument; and if it be 
not true, then the commencement of this Gospel is render¬ 
ed uncertain, and the hypothesis raised upon it fails to the 
ground at once of its own accord. Whether his knowledge 
of this Gospel were derived from ocular inspection or from 
vague report, he is admitted to have misrepresented it; 
and if he be inaccurate in one point, how can we trust him 
in another ? It is of little consequence, whether his misre¬ 
presentation arose from inadvertence, ignorance, or mal- 
jce ; for if the fact be so in one, and that an important 
instance, surely it must render every part of his testimony 
suspicious. 

In whatsoever point of view therefore we contemplate 
this document, it betrays evident traces of a spurious origin. 

I have hitherto taken for granted, what the authors of 
the New Version affirm, that the Cerinthians and Carpo- 
cratians rejected the two first chapters of St. Matthew, with 
the exception of the Genealogy ; and that the Ebionites 
rejected them altogether, without that exception. It may 


526 CRITICAL REFLECTIONS- ON THE 

however be questioned, whether this is not more than Epi~ 
phanius states. He eertainly asserts, that the Gospel of 
the Ebionites began with an account of John the Baptist, 
which, as not occuring until the third chapter in the Greek 
Gospel, must of course exclude the preceding chapters ; 
but he does not assert, that the Gospel of the Cerinthians 
and Carpocratians began in the same manner : on the con¬ 
trary he tells us, that it commenced with the Genealogy, 
precisely as the Greek Gospel commences. The latter 
sects, it is true, used a Hebrew Gospel in many respects 
similar to that of the Ebionites, hut evidently not in all, 
as the difference alluded to indisputably proves. The Ce¬ 
rinthians and Carpocratians therefore, as far as the testi¬ 
mony of Epiphanius goes, may be supposed to have re¬ 
tained the whole, as well as a part of the disputed chapters. 
Indeed, in another place, he expressly argues against the 
opinions of the Cerinthians, from a passage in the same 
chapters, subsequent to the Genealogy, viz. from Mat. i. 
IS, which he would scarcely perhaps have done, had not 
the passage been received by them as genuine. His words 
are these : IIws 5s tfaXiv ax s’Xsyy^irja'STai au<rwv avoia rx Eaayys- 
Xik &a<pus Xeyovros, on sups^T) sv yagpi syada,. irgiv y tfuvsXSstu 
auras.* 

Let us then briefly consider the deduction of the Unita- 
tarians from the premises which have been stated. The 
two first chapters of St. Matthew, they say, were not 
contained in the Hebrew Gospel of the Ebionites, there¬ 
fore they are to be rejected ; but a portion of them, about 
one fourth of the whole, was found in the Hebrew Gospel 
of the Cerinthians and Carpocratians, therefore this portion 
is to be retained, and the remainder only to be rejected. 
Is there not however a fallacy in the conclusion thus hasti¬ 
ly drawn ? The rejection of the three parts in question 
cannot well be made to depend upon the credit of the Ce- 


* Heeres. 27. { 7. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


527 


rinthian and Carpocratian Gospel, because it is not asserted 
to have been deficient in these respects ; it must solely rest 
upon that of the Gospel of the Ehionites. But it must be 
admitted, that the Gospel in question was but a mutilated 
copy of St. Matthew at best, as it possessed not the Ge¬ 
nealogy. If therefore its credit be more than questionable 
in the non-admission of one, and that a prominent part, 
how is it to he established in the non-admission of the re¬ 
maining parts ? Would the same hand, which avowedly 
cut away the Genealogy, scruple to remove also the ac¬ 
count of the miraculous conception, and the other events 
subsequently recorded in these chapters ? 

But the authors of the New Version, it may be said^ 
depend not wholly upon the testimony of Epiphanius. 
They introduce Jerome also as an auxiliary in their cause, 
certainly a more correct, more learned, and better informed 
writer, who, they observe, “ assures us, that the two 
chapters were wanting in the copies used by the Nazarenes 
and Ehionites.” So indeed they observe ; yet may they 
be challanged to produce a single passage from the volu¬ 
minous writings of Jerome, in which any assurance of the 
kind alluded to is either expressed or implied. On the 
contrary, it seems not difficult to show, that the testimony 
of Jerome makes completely against them. This Father, 
it should be recollected, translated into Greek and Latin 
the Gospel of the Nazarenes, and must therefore have been 
well acquainted with its contents. In his Catalogue of Il¬ 
lustrious Writers he makes the following allusion to it : 
“ Mihi quoque a Nazaraeis, qui in Beroea, urbe Syriae, hoc 
volumine utuntur, describendi facultas fuit ; in quo anim- 
advertendum, quod ubicunque Evangelista, sive ex per¬ 
sona sua, sive ex persona Domini Salvatoris Veteris Scrip- 
turae testimoniis utitur, non sequatur Septuaginta translato- 
rum auctoritatem, sed Hebraicam: e quibus ilia duo sunt 
Ex JEgypto vocavi Filium meum, et, Q uoniam Nazec¬ 
us vocabitur. The Nazaraeans, who live in Beroea, a 


528 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


city of Syria, and make use of this volume, granted me 
the favour of writing it out; in which Gospel there is this 
observable, that wherever the Evangelist either cites him¬ 
self, or introduces our Saviour as citing any passage out of 
the Old Testament, he does not follow the translation of 
the LXX. but the Hebrew copies, of which there are 
these two instances ; viz. that, Out of Egypt I have called 
my Son; and that, He shall be called a Nazarcne.”* Is 
it not hence evident, that the second of these disputed 
chapters at least, where these passages occur, was contained 
in the Gospel of the Nazarenes, which both Jerome and 
Eusebius represent as the Gospel also of the Ebionites ?t 
What then becomes of the supposed assurance of Jerome? 
And what credit is due to the assertions of those, who are 
too indolent, for I cannot suppose them too ignorant, to ex¬ 
amine the authorities, to which they appeal for the truth 
of their statements ? 

* Jones on the Canon, vpl. i. part i. chap. 25. } 13. See als® 
Michaeiis’s Introduction, vol. iii. part i. p. 166, 7; and Marsh’s Notes, 
part ii. p. 130,1. I have omitted the other proofs advanced by Mich- 
aelis, and more ably urged by his Annotator, because the single proof 
referred to seems perfectly satisfactory. I shall however add here 
the conclusion of Dr. Marsh: “ It appears,” he remarks, “ from 
Notes 10, 11, to this section, that the Hebrew Gospel used by the 
Nazarenes contained, at least, the second chapter of St Matthew. 
We must conclude therefore, from the connexion of the subject, that 
it contained likewise the eight last verses of the first chapter , which are 
so closely connected with the second chapter , that no separation can well 
take place. The only doubt therefore is, whether “it contained the 
Genealogy , Matt. i. 1—17.” Ibid. p. 137. 

f I have considered the same Gospel according to the Hebrews , as 
used both by the Nazarenes and Ebionites. Many critics have in¬ 
deed surmised, that some little difference existed between the res¬ 
pective copies of these sects ; but as this surmise principally rests on 
the credit of Epiphanius’s quotations, I have emitted to notice it, par¬ 
ticularly as the testimony of Eusebius and Jerome is direct to the 
point, and as the Authors of the New Version themselves identify th^ 
Gospel of the Nazarenes with that of the Ebionites. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


529 


Still however they may remark, unwilling to abandon 
the accuracy of Epiphanius, that something perhaps may 
be discovered in the extracts from the Gospel of the Ebio- 
nites, furnished by other writers, to corroborate the gene¬ 
ral credit of his testimony. But, unfortunately, here again 
the fact is completely on the other side ; and something 
may be found not to corroborate, but to invalidate his tes¬ 
timony. In the very passage where he speaks of the com¬ 
mencement of this Gospel, he adds the following quota- 
HXSs xai Iadovs xai sSaT'ritf&r] Cti'o tou Iwavvoir xa» ws avrjXhsv 
uito tx i/baro s, vjvoiy^jCav oi xpavai, xai siSs to Ilvsufxa tou ©sou to 
A yiov sv siSsi orspixaTsXSouG'rjs xai sitfTjXSxtfi'js sis a utov. Kai 
<pwv>] sysvSTo sx tx xpavx Xsyxfl'a - 2u (as si 6 uiog o ayaorvjTos, sv 
tfoi ■/judoxrjtfa. Kai oraXiv, Eyw o'vjp.s^ov ysysvvv)xa rfs. Jesus also 
went and was baptized by John : and as he ascended out 
of the water, the heavens were opened, and he saw the 
Holy Spirit of God in the form of a dove descending and 
entering into him, and a voice was made from heaven, 
saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom lam well 
pleased; and then another, I have this day begotten 
thee.”* Such is the extract of Epiphanius. Let this be 
compared with the subsequent extract made by Jerome 
relative to the same transaction, and the difference must 
appear remarkable. “Factum est autem, quum ascen- 
disset Dominus de aqua, descendit fons omnis Spiritus 
Sancti, et requievit super eum, et dixit ei ; Fili mi, in 
omnibus prophetis exspectabam te, ut venires, et requi- 
escerem in te ; tu es enim requies mea ; tu es filius meus 
prirnogenitus, qui regnas in sempiternum. It came to pass, 
when the Lord ascended from the water, the whole foun¬ 
tain of the Holy Ghost descended and rested upon him, 
and said to him, My Son, among (or during all the time 
of) all the Prophets 1was waiting for thy coming, that 
l might rest upon thee ; for thou art my rest; thou art 

* Jones on the Canon, vol. i. part ii. chap 35. $.11. 


•530 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


my first begotten Son, who shall reign to everlasting 
ages. 7 ’* How are these varying passages to be reconciled? 
Both profess to be taken from the Gospel according to the 
Hebrews. That quoted by Jerome, indisputably was ; that 
quoted by Epiphanius rests on the simple affirmation of the 
writer, unsupported by any collateral evidence, and made 
by one, whose character for accuracy is, to say the best of 
it, at least questionable. Can we possibly for a moment 
hesitate to determine on which side the balance of credibi¬ 
lity preponderates ? 

Having thus endeavoured to demonstrate, that if, ill 
order to be consistent, we adopt the Scriptures of the 
Ebionites in all respects, who are stated to have rejected 
the two first chapters of St. Matthew, little will be left to 
us either of the Old Testament or the New ; that their 
Gospel, as appears both from its external and internal 
evidence, could not have been the original of St. Matthew ; 
and that, even if it had, we might have still inferred, from 
the testimony of Jerome, that certainly one, and perhaps 
both of the disputed chapters were contained in it ; I 
might here conclude the discussion : but, by way of satis¬ 
fying those who conceive a Hebrew acknowledgment of 
these chapters to be important, I shall previously remark, 
that a particular passage in them was distinctly referred to 
by an Hebrew Christian of a very early age. Hegesip- 
pus, who lived at a period immediately subsequent to the 
apostolical, stfi tcajv cmtosoAwv ysvonsvos dia^o^s, as Eu¬ 

sebius informs us, speaking of Domitian, observed, that 
he too, dreaded the coming of Christ, as well as Herod ; 
spofsiTo yag T»)v •jragoutfiav ts X^igs, ws xai 'Hpwthjs :t upon 
which reference of Hegesippus, it will be only necessary 
to give the opinion of Lardner. u This passage, 77 says that 

* Ibid. $ 16. This indeed is the only extract which Epiphanius 
has in common with any other Father, and the difference we perceive 
is remarkable. 

f Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. chap. 19. $ 2Q, 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF TIIE N. T. 


531 


discriminating; writer, ‘‘deserves to be remarked. It con¬ 
tains a reference to the history in the second chapter of St. 
Matthew, and shews plainly, that this part of St. Mat - 
thew’s Gospel was owned by this Hebrew Christian. 

I should likewise add, that, although I have considered 
the document so often quoted, in order to preserve the 
thread of the Unitarian argument without interruption, as 
principally fabricated from the Gospel of St. Matthew, 
because such seem certainly to have been the sentiments 
of the early writers, I am far from admitting this point as 
clearly proved. The Fathers appear to have so considered it 
from the circumstance of its being the only Hebrew Gos¬ 
pel with which they were at all acquainted, combined with 
their persuasion, that St. Matthew himself wrote in that lan¬ 
guage. It is nevertheless evident from the fragments of 
it still extant, that in many respects it is not only very 
different from the Greek of St. Matthew, but often closely 
copied from the other Gospels. In the extracts given by 
Epiphanius it bears a strong resemblance to St. Luke.t 
Dr. Marsh perhaps would say, that this only proves the 
author of the Gospel in question to have borrowed from 
the same source as St. Luke. But whether this reasoning 

■'* Credibility of the Gospel Hist, part ii. vol. i. p. 317. 

f The following parallel passages occur in St. Luke, and not in St. 
Matthew; Eysvsro ns av-^p ovopan I rjdxs, xat ccutos us sruv rpiaxovra 
sis TYjv omav Sipwvos. Jones on the Canon, vol. i. part ii. 
chap. 25. 0. 11 . Kai auros vjv o \r\dzs udsi stum rpjaxovra, Luke iii. 
23. Eitf^XSsv sis <ty]m oixiav 2ipwv os, Luke iv. 38. 2ipwva tom Zv\- 
Xwttjv, ibid. 2ipwva t ov xaXoupsvov Z r\kurriM, Luke iv. 15. Eysvera 
sv ruts Tjpspais Hpwds tx fiadiXsus r^s Tou Souas, ibid. 'Eysvsro sv <raig, 
•Jjpspais 'Hpw&s rx fiadiXeus ttjs Ixdaias, Luke i. 5. Batfntfpa p s- 
vavofas, ibid. Ba'irritfp.a psravoias, Luke iii. 3. The same express¬ 
ion is also found in Mark i. 4. The parentage of John the Baptist is 
likewise given, which no one of the Evangelists records, except St. 
Luke. 2u ps si o u'ios o uyatfriToS) sv dot rjvdoxrjda, ibid. 2u St o ulos 


532 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


be correct, or not, it is sufficient for my purpose simply to 
note the fact, that in the extracts made by Epiphanius 
a verbal resemblance to St. Luke is in several instances 
strikingly visible. 

Upon the whole therefore I have rendered it, I trust, 
more than probable that the Gospel according to the He¬ 
brews, whatsoever might have been its pristine state, if 
indeed it ever laid claim to apostolical purity, cannot, in 
the state in which it is known to us, be correctly consi¬ 
dered as the unadulterated original of St. Matthew. And 
of this perhaps our new Translators themselves feel a little 
conscious; otherwise they would scarcely have been satis¬ 
fied with pointing out certain passages for rejection, with¬ 
out suggesting also certain additions, unless indeed they 
apprehended (which I rather suspect to have been the 
case) that the absurdity evident in some of these would 
have shaken the credit of their whole argument. 

fAS 6 ayaffijrfos, sv Cvi rjvSoxrpa, Luke iii. 22. In St. Matthew the 
words are, Ou<ros sgiv o uios pou 6 ayatf 7 )toc, sv w r]vOoxr]ffa, chap. iii. 17. 
Eyw tfrjfAS^ov ysysvvrixa tfs. It is singular that these words did not oc¬ 
cur in the text of St. Luke, but were nevertheless read in the follow¬ 
ing MSS. and Fathers, &c., referred to by Griesbach, “ D. Cant 
veron. verc. colb. corb*. Clem. Method. Hilar. Lactant. Jur. Faustus 
manich. ap. Aug. Codd. ap Aug. qui tamen monet in antiquioribus 
greeds haec non inveniri.” M»j smS’ufAfa sifs^upy]da xesas rxro <ro 
stadia cpaysiv [as(T iSpwv ; Epiph. H ceres. 30. }. 22. Etf&upia S'tfsSu- 
fA 7] da rsro to cpaysiv fxsd' upwv. Luke xxii. 15. Here, if Epi¬ 

phanius is to be credited in his extract, is a manifest perversion of our 
Saviour’s meaning, at war with the context, by giving an interrogative 
turn to the sentence, in order to sanction the Ebionite principle of ab¬ 
staining from animal food. Is it possible after this to contemplate tho 
Gospel according to the Hebrews , as represented to us by Epiphanius’ 
in any other light than as a garbled and spurious production? Nor 
indeed, do the quotations of it, preserved by Origen and Jerome, place 
it in a more respectable point of view. 


CHAP. III. 


Authenticity of the two first Chapters of 

St. Luke. 


I have not interfered in the former instance, nor do I 
mean to interfere in this, with the conjectural ground for 
the rejection of Scripture advanced by the Translators of 
this Version, because arguments similar to those which are 
used by them have been already often adduced, and as of¬ 
ten refuted ; because in some instances the most satisfactory 
answers are given by the very authors, to whom they re¬ 
fer for support; and because, above all, I am fully persuaded 
that the slippery system itself of conjectural criticism rests 
on no solid foundation. Hut where a sort of authority is 
appealed to, I shall consider its validity. 

The translators say ; “ The two first chapters of this 
Gospel were wanting in the copies used by Marcion, a re¬ 
puted heretic of the second century ; who, though he is 
represented by his adversaries as holding some extravagant 
opinions, was a man of learning and integrity, for any 
thing that appears to the contrary. He, like some mo¬ 
derns, rejected all the Evangelical histories excepting 
Luke, of which he contended that his own was a correct 
and authentic copy.” 

I shall not undertake to discuss the collateral question 
respecting the learning and integrity of Marcion ; because 
it is perhaps of little importance in itself, and because we 
have no sure data from which we can form an impartial 
decision upon the subject. For the odium theologicum in 
the breasts of his adversaries, great allowance, I am aware, 

?s to be made : but I must enter my unqualified protest 

t t 2 




534 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


against the Unitarian mode of constantly interpreting the 
Orthodox representation of an heretical character by the 
rule of contraries ; of uniformly reading for vice, virtue ; 
for folly, talent; and for want of principle, integrity. 
But as the Authors of this Version seem disposed to sa¬ 
crifice the universal persuasion of antiquity, upon the sub¬ 
ject of St. Luke’s text, to the particular opinion of Marcion, 
let us examine a little the nature and extent of his testi¬ 
mony. We are told, that the two first chapters were 
wanting in the copies used by him ; and yet the four first 
verses are retained as indisputably genuine. How is this 
contradiction to be reconciled ? Certainly some explanation 
of it should have been given. Were the four first verses 
retained simply for the convenience of an aditional argu¬ 
ment, in order to identify beyond dispute the writer of 
this Gospel with the writer of the Acts of the Apostles, 
and so to deduce from that circumstance the following in¬ 
genious display of criticism ? “ The Evangelist,” it is ob¬ 
served, “in his preface to the Acts of the Apostles, reminds 
his friend Theophilus, Acts i. 1. that this former history 
contained an account of the public ministry of Jesus, but 
makes no allusion to the remarkable incidents contained in 
the two first chapters, which therefore probably were not 
written by him as if, when an author refers to a former 
production, simply to point out its connexion with the one 
which he is composing, he must always be supposed dis¬ 
tinctly to enumerate every subject contained in it. Should 
this be the only reason for esteeming the four verses in 
question genuine, our new Translators surely treat their 
favourite Marcion, whose single authority they have to 
plead for rejecting the remainder of these chapters, very 
unceremoniously and contemptuously, because he expressl 3 r 
considered them also as spurious. As they appear not to 
have investigated very accurately the testimony upon which 
they rely, I shall point out to them what it really was, 
and will take my proofs from a work with which they are 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


535 


themselves doubtless well acquainted, “Lardner’s History 
of Heretics. ” 

Epiphanius, from whom we learn most respecting the 
Gospel in question, informs, us, that it resembles the Gos¬ 
pel of St. Luke, much mutilated, being defective both in 
the beginning, the middle, and the end ; particularly that 
at the beginning it wanted the Preface , (viz. the four 
verses still retained in the New Version,) and the account 
of Elizabeth, of the salutation of the Angel of the Virgin 
Mary, of John and Zacharias, of the nativity at Bethle¬ 
hem, of the Genealogy , and of the Baptism. 'O posv yag 
yapaxTyg tx xa<ra Asxav tfripaivet to suuyysXtov, ws (5s ^xpwT^iasaj, 
f tyre agyrjv syuv, pyjTS pstfa, (jwj-ts tsXos, IpaTtx fisSgupsvx vfto •sjoX- 
Xwv (Tijtwv STsyst tov Tpoirov’ suSus psv yap sv tj\ a^yj] <ita\iTa Ta art' 
apyjfc tx A xxa neirgaypaTSv^sva, txt' sgiv ws Xsysr StfSiSrji rsp tfoXXo* 
Sftsysigritfuv xat Ta 'sipis. Kai ra nregt tyjs EXi tfaSsr, xat to u AyfsXou 
ZvayfsXi%op$vou t v]v Ma^av ■ffa^S’Svov, Iwavvs ts xa\ Z ayaptx^ xat tv\s su 
B s5XsS(x ysv7)rfswg, yevsa'koyia s, xa» <r?]S tou Baffrjtf/juxTog atfoSscfewg * 
TttVTa iravTu tsprxo^as anwri Srjifs. Hser. 42. §. 11.* Hence 
therefore it appears, that Marcion rejected the Preface 
.which the New Version admits, and also that part at least 
of the third chapter which contains the particulars of our 
Saviour’s Baptism and Genealogy , a defalcation more 
extensive than the modest lop of the Unitarians.t But this 

* Lardner’s History of Heretics, p. 250. note q. 

f Epiphanius indeed, immediately after the words above quoted 
from him by Lardner, says, that the Gospel of Marcion began thus; 
“ In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, &c.” Ka* suay~ 

fsXix STags TavTriv. Ev toj ‘irsvTSxaiSsxaTU stsi TtGsgtx Kajtfa^os xat 
to. £gr]g. But he adds, that Marcion preserved no regular order of 
narration, <ra <5s irpogiSrjrfiv avw xarw, xx ofius fiat 5i£wv, aXXa sgpaSi- 
spyrjfxsvws cravra -rrspivosswv. Besides, as he had just asserted the 
omission of the Baptism, and Genealogy it seems impossible that he 
could have been either so absurd, or so forgetful, as directly to con¬ 
tradict himself in the very next sentence. Theodoret also mentions 


635 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


is not. all. Lardner contends, that not a single passage of 
St. Luke, with the exception of the words, “ In the fif¬ 
teenth year of Tiberius Caesar,” from the first verse of 
the first chapter, down to the thirteenth verse of the 
fourth chapter inclusive, was to be found in the Gospel of 
Marcion. His argument is principally grounded upon the 
following extract from Tertullian : “Anno quinto decimo 
principatus Tiberiani proponit Deum descendisse in civita- 
tem Galileae Capernaum Contra Marc. lib. iv. §. 7. which 
he considers as given by Tertullian for the commencement 
of Marcion’s Gospel, and which he thus translates: “In 
the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, God descended into 
Capernaum, a city of Galilee .” Now as we are assured 
by Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and others, that Marcion 
believed Jesus to be a celestial Being, or real divinity, 
sent from the supreme God, who was superior to the Crea¬ 
tor of the world ; and as we read, Luke iv. 31. that Jesus 
“ went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee these cir¬ 
cumstances alone, without any additional reasoning, seem 
almost indisputably to prove, that the thirty-first verse of 
the fourth chapter, with the simple date of the period 
prefixed, was the precise commencement of this Gospel, 
as pointed out by Tertullian.* 

Independently of this complete abscission, Epiphanius 
gives at large a variety of other omissions, and of interpo¬ 
lations, which he dwells upon minutely. 

If then our new Translators conceive the whole of Mar- 


Marcion’s rejection of the Genealogy, xai rrjv ysvsaXoyiuv vspuo^a$ 
&c. Lardner, ibid. p. 250: 

* Marcion, it is obvious, could not, consistently with his principles^, 
have acknowledged the Baptism and Genealogy, neither, for the 
same reason, could he have admitted the Temptation , and the Dis¬ 
courses in the Synagogue , contained in the fourth chapter, as both oc¬ 
currences are connected with allusions to the Old Testament; and 
we shall presently see how free he made with these. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


537 


cion’s evidence to be valuable, why do they adopt one part 
and neglect the other ? Why do they not likewise fairly 
tell us to what extent we must proceed, if we regulate our 
Canon of Scripture by his rule ? There is no doubt of his 
having disavowed every Gospel but his own, of his having- 
received no other part of the New Testament except cer¬ 
tain Epistles of St. Paul garbled, and of his having reject¬ 
ed altogether the writings of the Old Testament.* Hence 
surely some little perplexity must arise, when we attempt 
to reconcile the canon of the Marcionites and the Ebio- 
nites, (whose assistance in purifying the Gospel of St. 
Matthew must not be forgotten,) without sacrificing the 
credit of either. The Ebionites rejected only a part of 
the Old Testament, retaining the greatest portion of the 
Pentateuch at least : the Marcionites rejected the whole. 
The Marcionites received almost all St. Paul’s Epistles ; 
the Ebionites held that Apostle and his writings in abhor¬ 
rence. Both indeed agreed in repudiating every Gospel 
except their own ; but unfortunately their respective Gos¬ 
pels were widely different from each other. Reduced to 
this lamentable dilemma, can we act with greater wisdom 
than to abandon both Ebionites and Marcionites ; to prefer 
simplicity to fraud, and consistency to contradiction ? 

But, waving every other consideration, let us examine 
a little some of the internal pretensions of Marcion’s Gos¬ 
pel to legitimacy. Among the extravagant opinions im¬ 
puted to him, were the following : that the Creator of the 
invisible world was a Deity distinct from, and superior to, 
the Creator of the visible world ; the former being good¬ 
ness itself, the latter good and evil; the latter God of the 
Old, the former the God of the New Testament : the 
Jesus was the Son of the Supreme Deity, assuming that 
appearance of manhood when he first descended from 
heaven, and was seen in Capernaum, a city of Galilee $ 


* Lardner. Ibid. 


538 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


and that a principle part of his mission was to destroy the 
Law and the Prophets, or the revelation of that inferior 
God, who created only the visible world. Hence Marcion 
found it convenient to get rid of every allusion to our 
Saviour’s nativity, because he objected to believe that 
Jesus was man , certainly not upon the Unitarian princi¬ 
ple, of objecting to believe that he was more than man ; 
and thus we find his Gospel commencing precisely where 
we might have expected it to commence. 

A favourite text with the Marcionites was, Luke viii. 
21. in which our Saviour says, “ My mother and my bre¬ 
thren are those who hear the Word of God, and do it;” 
because they considered it as proving that Christ, owned 
no mortal consanguinity : but the 19th verse stood direct¬ 
ly in their way, “Then came to him his mother and his 
brethren , and could not come at him for the press the 
words therefore, his mother and his brethren , they ex¬ 
punged. If it be said, might not the same words have 
been wanting in the genuine copies of St. Luke? the an¬ 
swer is obvious : they certainly might have been; but 
what proof is there that they were ? Are they omitted in 
any of the three hundred and fifty-five manuscripts which 
have been collated, or in any of the versions ? Not in one. 
And do they not seem necessary to the connexion of the 
subsequent verse, in which it is observed, “And it was 
told him by certain, which said, Thy mother and thy bre¬ 
thren stand without, desiring to see thee ?” Besides, we 
perceive these very expressions in the genuine Gospel of 
St. Matthew, (c. xii. 46.) where the same transaction is 
recorded. Could they have been inserted there by the 
hand of some wicked Ebionite ? This however the Unita¬ 
rians cannot consistently allow ; because, in their judg¬ 
ment, the Ebionites were no interpolators. Must we not 
then conclude, when, as in this instance, an omission is 
pleaded in the Gospel which occurs not in another, which 
also destroys the connexion of the context, and which the 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T, 53& 

party defending it has an interest in supporting, that the 
theological pruning-hook has been indisputably at work ? 

Again : our Saviour addresses his heavenly Father as 
“ Lord of Heaven and Earth,” Luke x. 11; an appellation 
which completely militated against the creed of Marcion, 
who distinguished between the Lord of heaven , (that is, 
the heaven of heavens,) or the Lord of the invisible world, 
and the Lord of the earth , or the Lord of the terrestrial 
and visible world. We therefore find, that in his Gospel 
the latter part of the appellation was suppressed, our Savi¬ 
our being introduced as only using the terms, ‘‘Lord of 
heaven. ” But since precisely the same expressions, “ Lord 
of heaven and earth” are read in St. Matthew, (c. xi. 
25.) and since Marcion, as we have seen, had private 
reasons for the omission, we cannot surely hesitate in de¬ 
termining which is the genuine text. 

The greatest liberty however seems to have been taken 
with those passages which tend to confirm the authority of 
the Old Testament. Hence were omitted, in the eleventh 
chapter of St. Luke, the verses 30, 31, and 32, which al¬ 
luded to Jonah, to the Queen of the South, to Solomon 
and to Nineveh ; and the verses 49, 50, 51, which speak 
of the blood of the prophets, and of Able and Zacharias: 
in the nineteenth chapter, the verses 45, 46, in which our 
Saviour expels the money-changers from the Temple : in 
the twentieth chapter, the verses 17, 18, in which occurs a 
quotation from the Psalms ; and the verses 37, 38, where 
an allusion is made to the divine vision exhibited in the 
bush to Moses : in the twenty-first chapter, the verses 21, 
22, which recognize a prophecy of Daniel : and in the 
twenty-second chapter, the verses 35, 36, and 37, in the 
last of which a prophecy of Isaiah is represented as about 
to be accomplished. Now every one of these texts, omit¬ 
ted, by Marcion, are to be found in the corresponding 
passages both of St. Matthew and of St. Mark , except 
the two first and the last, the former of which however 


540 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


are in St. Matthew, and the latter is in St. Mark. And it 
should be observed, that these are* the principle texts of 
St. Luke, in which the Old Testament is quoted with dis¬ 
tinct approbation. There are indeed two passages of this 
description, which were not erased ; viz. Luke xiii. 28. 
and Luke xxivi 25. hut these were ingeniously accommoda¬ 
ted to the doctrine of the Marcionites. In the first it is 
said, “ There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, 
when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all 
the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves 
thrust out .” Here, instead of “ when ye shall see Abraham , 
and Isaac, and Jacob and the •prophets, in the kingdom 
of God.” Marcion read, “ when ye shall see all the just 
in the kingdom of God. ” In the second passage, our Sa- 

* Perhaps if to those, which are mentioned above, we add Luke 
xviii. 31, 32, 33, we may say all; and these likewise were omitted by 
Marcion, as the first of them asserted, that All thino-s which are 
written by the Prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accom¬ 
plished.” Indeed a similar declaration is made, Luke xxiv. 44, 45, 
46 ; but I very much doubt whether Marcion’s Gospel had any thing 
in common with St. Luke after the preceding verse, for the following- 
reasons : Epiphanies states, that it was defective at the end as well as 
at the beginning, Hseres. 42. }. 11; and that he had proceeded regu¬ 
larly to the end in his refutations of every part in which Marcion had 
absurdly retained any expression of our Saviour hostile to his own 
doctrine : stws iws tsXss 6jsg^X2rov, sv ok cpcoverui tjXiSiws xad’ iaum 
sort tooi-toes toes orapa.ipstvadag tou ts SojT^pos xca tou AtfosoXou Xsgsts 

(puXar7wv. $. 10. Now the last notice of this kind which he takes is 
contained in the 39th verse, the subject of which is concluded at the 
43d verse. The result is obvious. Besides, it should not be forgot¬ 
ten, that in a former passage he had absolutely erased a declaration 
of the same nature, not indeed so fully expressed as this. Epipha- 
nius, it is true, is in general sufficiently inaccurate; but if any de¬ 
pendence can be placed upon his statements, it is in the case of Mar¬ 
cion’s Gospel and Apostolicon, which lie professes to have read, and 
from which, for the object of refutation, he made, he says, numerous 
extracts. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. Tj 


541 


viour thus addresses two of his disciples after his resurrec¬ 
tion, “ 0 fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the 
prophets have spoken .” This he changed into “ Slow of 
heart to believe all that I have spoken to you.”* 

When therefore these several circumstances are duly 
considered ; when we perceive so many omissions, and 
such striking deviations in Marcion’s Gospel, all pointing 
one way, all tending to the support of his own peculiar sys¬ 
tem ; and when also we discover parallel passages in the 
genuine Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark, sometimes 
in one, and sometimes in both of them, where the disput¬ 
ed expressions appear ; must it not argue an infantine cre¬ 
dulity almost beyond example* a credulity, which no re¬ 
flection can correct, no experience cure, to conceive it pro¬ 
bable, that the text of Marcion was the unadulterated text 
of St. Luke ? What possible chance could have produced 
so great a variety of readings, and that at so early a period, 
all meeting in a common centre? A result so uniform never 
surely could have been effected by a simple combination of 
contingencies, but must have been fraudulently secured by 
the loaded die “of a systematical theology.” If the opi¬ 
nion of Lardner on this point be important, whose History 
of Heretics must be allowed to be sufficiently favourable to 
heresy, that also will be found adverse to the Unitarian ar¬ 
gument. “Upon an impartial review,” he observes, “of 
these alterations, some appear to be trifling, others might 
arise from the various readings of different copies : but 
many of them are undoubtedly designed perversions , in¬ 
tended to countenance, or at least not directly contradict. 


* It may be added, that in all the instances adduced, the Peshito, 
or old Syriac Version, is strictly conformable with our received Gos¬ 
pels, and directly against Marcion’s; an argument which may perhaps 
be of some weight with those who justly admit that Version “ to be 
of the most remote antiquity and of the highest authority Introduc¬ 
tion to the New Translation, p. 15. 

tj Tr 2 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


542 

those absurd principles which he and his followers espou¬ 
sed. ”* But Le Clerc is more harsh in his censure ; and 
hesitates not to term those absolutely mad, by whom the 
defalcation of the corrupted Gospel of Marcion are appro¬ 
ved.! 

Indeed the Translators of the New Version themselves, 
whatsoever convenience they may find in depriving of can¬ 
onical authority the commencement of St. Luke’s Gospel, 
because it was not to be found in “ the copies of Marcion,” 
do not always pay a similar regard to the same precious 
relicks of reputed heresy. It will not perhaps be denied, 
that the Scriptures of Marcion must be, in all respects, of 
equal validity ; that the credit of his Avoiohum must vie 
with that of his E vayfs'kiov, and that both must stand or fall 
together. Yet we find that in Galat. i. I, where St. Paul 
calls himself an Apostle, not for men nor by man, but by 
Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from 
the dead,” Marcion omitted the words God the Father, 
in order, as Jerome observes, to point out that Christ raised 
himself up by his own power ; Omittebat Marcion, Kca Os& 
irurgog in ejus Acr'o'oXocw volens exponere Christum, non a 
Deo patre, sed per semet ipsum suscitatum.” Hieron. in 
Galat. i. l.J But we do not find that these words are 
omitted, or even marked by italics, in the New Version : 
on the contrary, an argument is founded upon them in the 
notes, to prove that here Jesus Christ is distinguished from 
God, to whom he was subordinate, and by whose power, 
and not his own, he was raised from the dead.” Were 

* History of Heretics, p. 261. 

| Docebat Marcion Christum venisse, ut opera Creatoris dissolveret. 
At de Christo nihil norat,nisi quod ex Novo Testamento acceperat, 
unde contrarium plane liquet; nisi quEecumque Marcionis sententia? 
adversantur, quae innumera sunt, insana licentia resecentur ; quod 
nemo, sui compos, probaverit. Hist. Ecclesiastica, p. 649. 

J Lardner's History of Heretics, p. 266. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


543 


the Translators aware of this circumstance ? Thev could 
not have been well ignorant of it, as Griesbach, whose text 
they profess to follow, distinctly refers to it in a note. But 
they may have been negligent. Supposing this then to 
have been the case, let us proceed to another reading in 
the Apostolicon, which they certainly did not overlook, 
viz. 1 Cor. xv. 47, because they expressly remark, that 
“ Marcion is accused by Tertullian of inserting here the 
word xu^ios.” Our common reading runs thus : “ The 
second man is the Lord from heaven 6 Sevrsgos avSpuirog 6 
xugios sg apava. This he read, “ the second is the Lord 
from heaven ;” 6 Ssvr^og 6 xugiog sgavn : but they read, 
“the second man will be from heaven.” Thus in the 
very teeth of his authority, they admit the word a&piruo;, 
which he rejected, and reject the word xvpwg, which he ad¬ 
mitted ; and even presume to found an argument for the 
rejection of the latter expression upon the circumstance of 
his having admitted, or, as they say, inserted it. Where 
is the consistency of all this? Nor does their dereliction 
of professed principle terminate here. They modestly ob¬ 
serve in their Introduction, “ If this Version of the Christ¬ 
ian Scriptures possesses any merit, it is that of being trans¬ 
lated from the most correct text of the original which has 
hitherto been published,” p. 8. Yet in the present in¬ 
stance, and this is not the only one of the kind,* they 

* Another occurs 1 Cor. x. 9, where Marcion, Griesbach, and the 
received Text, all read, “Let us not tempt Christ which they 
change into, “ Nor let us try (tempt) the Lord." It is true they take 
no notice of Marcion, but they seem to express their surprise that 
the word Christ “ is retained by Griesbach, even in his second edi¬ 
tion.” They do not indeed any where represent Griesbach’s text as 
absolutely perfect, yet they consider it as perfect as the present state 
of criticism will admit; for they say, “ The Editors of this work offer 
it to the public as exhibiting to the English reader a text not indeed 
absolutely perfect, but approaching as nearly to the Apostolical and 
Evangelical originals, as the present state of sacred criticism will 
admit; nor do they hold it up as a faultless translation, &c.” Introd. 
p. 30. 


544 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


Venture to discard “ the most correct text of the original 
which has hitherto been published,” the text of Griesbach, 
that indentical text, in which, as in one of the highest cre¬ 
dit, they professed implicitly to confide ; thus coolly throw¬ 
ing over-board the very pilot, to whose boasted guidance, 
in their passage throu gh the perilous deeps of manuscript 
criticism, their inexperienced bark was avowedly commit¬ 
ted. 

But after all, what certain proof exists that the Marcion- 
ites themselves considered their Gospel as the composition 
of St. Luke ? If the assertion of the new Translators be 
received, no doubt can be entertained upon the subject, 
because they advance this unqualified affirmation: Marcion, 
like some moderns,” (meaning, it is presumed, the admi¬ 
rers of Evanson, for the sect of Unitarianism is itself inter¬ 
sected,) “ rejected all the Evangelical histories except St. 
Luke, of which he contended, that his own tvas a correct 
and authentic copy” Instead, however, of pressing them 
with opposite authority myself, I shall simply confront 
their statement with the very different one of a critic, to 
whom both parties are disposed to listen with much defer¬ 
ence ; the ‘‘learned and acute” Annotator of Michaelis “It 
has been very generally believed,” says Dr. Marsh, “ on 
the authority of Tertullian and Epiphanius, that Marcion 
wilfully corrupted the Gospel of St. Luke. Now it is 
true, that the long catalogue of Marcion’s quotations, which 
Epiphanius has preserved in his forty second Heresy, ex¬ 
hibits readings which materially differ bom those of the 
corresponding passages in St. Luke’s Gospel ; consequent¬ 
ly, iy'Marcion really derived those quotations from a copy 
of St. Luke’s Gospel, that copy must have contained a 
text which in many places materially differed from our 
genuine text, though the question will still remain undeci¬ 
ded, whether the alternations were made by Marcion him¬ 
self, or whether he used a manuscript, in which they had 
been already made. But that Marcion used St. Luke’ 


UVITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


545 


(Gospel at all, is a position which has been taken for grant¬ 
ed, without the least proof. Marcion himself never pre¬ 
tended that it was the Gospel of St. Luke, as Tertullian ac¬ 
knowledges ; saying, ‘Marcion Evangelio suo nullum 
ascribit ciutorem,’ Adv. Marcion. lib. iv. c. 2. It is 
probable therefore that he used some apocryphal Gospel, 
which had much matter in common with that of St. Luke, 
but yet was not the same. On this subject see Griesbach, 
Historia Textus Epistolarutn Paulinarum, p. 91, 92, and 
Loeffler’s dissertation entitled, 4 Marcionem Pauli Epistolas 
et Lucae Evangelium adulterasse dubitatur,’ which is 
printed in the first volume of the Commentationes Theolo- 
gicae ”* 

As the opinions of Griesbach, to whom a reference is 
made, deservedly rank high in the estimation, not only of 
the world in general, but the Uuitarians in particular, it 
maybe proper to remark, that the argument of the German 
critic, in the passage above pointed out, tends to prove the 
impropriety of denominating Marcion a corrupter of St. 
Luke’s text, because he never represented his Gospel as 
written by that Apostle, The resuh, however, drawn by 
Griesbach himself from this position being different from 
that of Dr. Marsh, I shall give it in his own language : 
“ Hoc Marcioni propositum fuisse videtur, ut ex Evange- 
listarum, atque praesertim e Lucae commentariis concinna- 
ret succinctam de munere, quo Christus publice functus 
erat, atque de ultimis fatis ejus narrationem, ita adornatam, 

* Marsh’s Michselis, vol. iii. part ii. p. 1G0. Dr. Marsh might 
have added a passage or two from Epiphanies, indirectly at least 
bearing on the same point. Instead of asserting that the Marcionites 
represented their Gospel as that of St. Luke, Epiphanius only saj T s, 
that they used a Gospel which resembled that of St. Luke jaovw 6s 
xsXp^ai tstw tw xapaxrrigi tw xara Aaxav EuayfsXiw, } 9, and that 
they themselves simply called it the Gospel cap’ aurwv ’hsyofiewj 
Eaa/fsXiov, * 10. 


546 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


ut inserviret illorum hominum usibus, qui quantum possunt 
longissime a Judaismo discedere, eamque, ob causam, ne- 
glectis Vet. Test, libris, solis discipulorum Christi scriptis 
uti vellent, et hsec e philosophiae sua? Jegibus interpreta- 
rentur. Talibus itaque lectoribus cum Evangelium suum 
destinaret, collegit ex Evangelist arum scriptis ea, quae 
huie hominum generi grata esse sciret, omissis omnibus, 
quse lectoribus suis displicerepotuissent •”* 

Upon the whole then, taking a retrospective view of 
what has been advanced upon both topics, will Unitarian 
candour act unworthy of itself, if, instead of rejecting any 
part of St. Matthew’s Gospel, upon the credit of the 
Ebionites, or any part of St. Luke’s Gospel upon the cred¬ 
it of the Marcioniies, it be disposed to give a due weight 
to that text, the authority of which no biblical critic of 
eminence has ever yet attempted to shake, if it put the 
concurrent testimony of antiquity, supported by the accu- 

* Perhaps the reader may not think me too minute if I subjoin the 
sentiments of another highly esteemed writer upon the same subject, 
the accurate and laborious Tillemont it is this; Pour le Nouveau 
Testament, des quatre Evangiles il recevoit seulement une partie de 
celui de S. Luc, qu'il n’attribuoit neamnoins ni a S. Luc , in a aucun 
autre des Apotres ou des, disciples, ni a quelque personne que ce, 
fust. Dans la suite ses sectateurs fattribuerent a Jesus-Christ 
mesme, disant neanmoins que S. Paul y avoit ajoute quelque chose 
comme l’histoire de la passion. Us le ehangeoient tous les jours selon 
qu’ils estoient pressez par les Catholiques, en retranchant et y ajout- 
ant ce qu’il leur plaisoit. Us en ostoient sur tout les passages, qui y 
sont citez de 1’ancien Testament, et ceux ou le Sauveur reconnoist le 
Createur pour son pere. Plistoire Eccles. vol. ii. p. 123. ed. 1732. It 
is curious to remark the different conclusions deduced by three respect¬ 
able critics from the same premises. Tillemont conceives, that Mar- 
cion made his selections from the genuine Gospel of St. Luke ; Dr. 
Marsh, not from the genuine, but from some apocryphal Gospel of 
the same Evangelist; and Griesbach, from St. Luke, St. Matthew, 
and St. Mark indiscriminately. All however coincide in the position, 
that Marcion did not assert his Evangelion to be “ a correct and au¬ 
thentic copy of St. Luke.” 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


547 


rate collation of Manuscripts, Fathers, and Versions, into 
one scale, and throwing the spurious Gospel of Ebion, and 
the more spurious Gospel of Marcion, into the other, be¬ 
hold them ignominiously kick the beam ? 


CHAP. IV. 

Intermediate State between death and the Resurrection. 

Authenticity of Luke xxiii 43. 

/ 

As the Authors of this Version are manifestly disciples 
of those fond philosophers who descry, or fancy that they 
descry, in the page of Scripture the characteristicai hues 
of their own ephemeral systems, so also do they appear 
to be of that peculiar sect which maintains, that human 
souls are material, that they are composed of a genuine 
corporeal substance, although of one so refined and subtle, 
that thousands of them, as it is quaintly but forcibly ex¬ 
pressed by a Platonical writer* of the seventeenth century, 

* Dr. Henry More, in his Divine Dialogues:— 

“ Hyl. Is it not incredible, Philotheus, if not impossible, that 
some thousands of spirits may dance or march on a needle’s point at 
once ? 

a Cuph. I, and that booted and spurred too.” Vol. i. p. 90. 

Having alluded to the Dialogues of this eccentric but amiable 
writer, whose talents as a metaphysician, philosopher, and divine 
were doubtless highly respectable, but whose imagination too fre¬ 
quently outran his jndgment, I cannot avoid digressing a moment 
from my subject to notice, that from a passage in the same work, viz. 
the story of the Eremite and the Angel , related, p. 321—327, the ce¬ 
lebrated “ Hermit ” of Parnell was evidently borrowed, not merely in 
the general circumstances of the narrative, with some slight dela¬ 
tions indeed, but sometimes in its very turn of expression ; a produc¬ 
tion which I have heard the late Mr. Burke pronounce to be, 
Poem without a fault.” 



54S 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


u can dance booted and spurred upon a needle’s point” 
But whatsoever may be the creed of these Translators upon 
the particular doctrine of materialism, it is certain that 
they contend for the extinction of the soul with the body, 
and for the revivification of both together at the day of 
judgment. This opinion they clearly assert in a note upon 
Phil. i. 21. “For as concerning me, (rather a singular 
translation of sfioi yag,) to live is Christ, and to die is 
gain” w’here they maintain, that the Apostle does not 
“express an expectation of an intermediate state between 
death and the resurrection,” but simply represents “a 
quiet rest in the grave, during that period, as preferable 
to a life of suffering and persecution.” 

But it is not my present object to oppose their theologi¬ 
cal system, to pursue them from one labyrinth of Unitarian 
exposition to another through all the intricate mazes of 
metaphysical refinement ; yet I cannot help reminding 
them, that one text at least in another Epistle of St. Paul, 
seems to make directly against their position, required a 
little explanation. It is this ; “ We are derirous rather to 
be absent from the body and to be present ivith the Lord,” 
2 Cor. v. 8 ; a declaration which to common minds appears 
to imply, that the “presence with the Lord ” here spoken 
of. must mean a presence during the period of absence 
from the body, a period immediately commencing with 
death, after the same manner as it was stated in the prece¬ 
ding verse, while we are present in the body, we are ab¬ 
sent from the Lord.” This passage nevertheless is suffer¬ 
ed to pass without a comment. 

While, however, they here abstain from all explanatory 
remark, on another occasion they contrive to preclude the 
necessity of it altogether. The Sadducees are said to be¬ 
lieve, “ that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, 
fj wjts TOvsufjux, Acts xxiii. 8.” Now the conjunction fjwjrs, 
nor, they have chosen to translate or ; “the Sadducees 
say, that there is no resurrection, nor angel, or spirit,” in 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


549 


order to convey the idea of the word spirit being synony¬ 
mous with 'that of angel , instead of being intentionally 
distinguished from it. It is perhaps a singular coincidence 
that the same translation should occur in an anonymous 
version of the New Testament, published at an early period 
in the preceding century by some person or persons well 
versed in the art of what the majority then denominated, 
and are still disposed to denominate, the art. of unchristi¬ 
anizing the records of Christianity. I shall transcribe the 
animadversion made upon it at the time by the acute Twells, 
who volunteered on this, as on other occasions* the unplea¬ 
sant duty of exposing ignorance and detecting subterfuge. 
“St. Luke says,” observes that discriminatingwriter, “the 
Sadducees affirm, that there is no resurrection, neither an¬ 
gel, nor spirit. Gr. Mt)5s ayfeXov (xtjts xvsupa, i.e. they denied 
the existence of angels and also of souls separate from the 
body, that is, spirits. In all which they are represented 
to err. But the Translator has a device to keep his reader 
from seeing that the denial of spirits is one of the errors 
of Sadducism, by mistranslating fiv]rs or instead of non. 
The Sadducees , says he, maintain there is neither re¬ 
surrection , nor angel , or spirit. So that according to 
him, spirit was but another name for angel.”* 

Neither is this the only passage upon the point under 
consideration, in which both the Versions alluded to ac- 

* “ Critical Examination of the late new Text and Version of 
the New Testament,” Ed. 1731,. p. 134. But why all this contriv¬ 
ance to expunge from Scripture a belief in the existence of disiin- 
bodied spirits, when our Saviour himself expressly asserts it ? For 
when his Apostles were terrified at his appearance after his resur¬ 
rection, “ and supposed that they had seen a spirit,” he said to them, 
“ A spirit has not Jlesh and bones, as ye see me “ have,” Luke xxiv, 
29. Are the Unitarians bold enough to insinuate, that the Apostles 
only proved themselves on this occasion to be fools, and that our Sa¬ 
viour answered them according to their folly ? 

x x 2 


550 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


cord.* That of the former period renders sig aSa, Acts ii, 
27, in the grave, “because thou wilt not leave my soul 
in the grave which is also adopted by this of the present 
day, with the addition of a still wider deviation from the 
established Version, in translating; •I'U/riv ^ my soul, 
by the pronoun me, 1 ‘ because thou wilt not leave me in 
the grave .” I indeed admit that is often put by sy¬ 
necdoche for the whole person, as Matthew xii. 18, “ my 
beloved in whom my soul, i. e. I am well pleasedbut 
so also is the English word soul in the very same text. 
But does it therefore follow, that neither the Greek nor 
the English word has any other appropriate meaning ? 
Surely we must perceive, that not the whole, but a pecu¬ 
liar part of man is directly pointed out, when our Saviour 
says, “Fear not them who kill the body, but cannot kill 
the soul, ^X 7 i v 5” Matt. x. 16. I am also aware that 
Grotius, in Matt. x. 36, argues for a reciprocal sense of 
the substantive i° conjunction with a pronoun, as a 

sort of familiar Syriasm ; but the application of this rule 
in the instance alleged is successfully opposed by Vorstius,f 
nor are other examples of it in the New Testament referred 
to by either Author. Besides, were it generally admissible 
the grammatical connexion of the word in the disputed 
text would preclude its influence ; for to say, “ thou wilt not 
leave myself in the grave ,” would be little better than 
nonsense, and a direct violation of common syntax. If it 
be observed, that the context will determine the sense j 
this is precisely the point for which I am contending : for 
I maintain, that a<b]s cannot be correctly translated the 
grave, but always means the receptacle of departed souls, 
and consequently that -j^u^ y\ can only signify that part of 
man to which such a receptacle is appropriated. In proof 

* Ibid. p. 133. 

f De Ebraismis Nov. Test. p. i. p. 120. 122. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


551 


of what I assert, it will be sufficient perhaps simply to ap 
peal to Schleusner, Art. uSr,s, and to Wetstein in Luc. 
vxi. 23, whose “ numerous and invaluable notes,” as the 
Authors of the New Version themselves conceive, “sup¬ 
ply an inexhaustible fund of theological and critical infor¬ 
mation.”* Both support their opinion by respectable re¬ 
ferences. Wetstein observes generally, “ Vox Graeca aifycr, 
cui respondet Hebrsea et Latina inferorum, deno- 

tat ilium locum communem , in quern recipiuntur omnes 
hominum vita functorum animse. Nunquam vero signifi- 
cat aut scpulchrum aut coelum.” I rather suspect that 
these Authors had perused the note of Wetstein alluded to, 
because, in their translation of the very text upon which 
this comment is given, they render a^s the unseen state” 
Be this however as it may, I shall, 1 trust, be excused if 
I prefer, in the instance before me, the opinion of such 
able critics and philologists as Schleusner and Wetstein, 
supported by numerous and respectable authorities, to that 
of a whole committee of Unitarian Translators, who either 
cannot or will not, on the other side, adduce any authori¬ 
ty whatsoever. 

But, on the controverted topic of an intermediate state 
between death and the resurrection, there exists a passage 
in St. Luke, which, without a little expository straining, 
or a disavowal of its legitimacy, seems completely at war 
with the Unitarian hypothesis. It is Luke xxiii. 43, 
“ And Jesus said to him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day 
shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”! An attempt indeed 
was made, at a very early period, by some who disliked 
the doctrine which this text evidently contains, to get rid 
of the offensive position by a novel punctuation. Instead 
of putting the comma before the word Crj^ov to-day , they 

* Introduction p. 21. 

f Wolfii Curse Philologies?, vol. i. p. 766, Koecheri Analecta, p. 
982, and Hackspan in loc. 


552 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


proposed to place it after it, and then to read, “ Verily I 
say unto thee this day, Thou shalt be with me in Para¬ 
dise a very bungling and unsatisfactory artifice. It was 
nevertheless at one period adopted by the Socinians, whose 
German translation of the New Testament was in the verse 
under consideration carefully thus pointed. But so mani¬ 
fest a dislocation of sense and language was not likely to 
prove long fashionable. We therefore find the New Trans¬ 
lators pursuing a different and a bolder line of conduct. 
They in the first place endeavour to explain away its obvi¬ 
ous meaning, by remarking, that, when Christ says to the 
penitent malefactor, “ To-day thou shalt be with me in Pa¬ 
radise,” he only meant, “ in the state of the virtuous 
dead , who, though in their graves, are alive to God 
and also by referring to their comment upon Luke xx. 38, 
where we are told, that all live to God, because he “ re¬ 
gards the future resurrection as if it were present.” Will 
these refined reasoners howmver permit me to ask them, by 
what harsh epithet they would characterize the conduct of 
that man, who should announce to them a blessing of the 
first importance as actually to take place on that very day , 
which he at the same time knew w r ould not happen until 
a distant period, under the despicable subterfuge, that 
there is no distinction of time with God, because “one 
day is with him as a thousand years, and a thousand years 
as one day ?” Really, with all their contempt for ancient 
and established opinion, they must have a strange concep¬ 
tion indeed of the popular intellect, if they can persuade 
themselves, that this flimsy sort of new sumpsimus will 
ever supersede what they may scornfully contemplate as 
old mumpsimus. 

Conscious perhaps of this circumstance, they then pro¬ 
ceed a step farther, and boldly propose at once the rejec¬ 
tion, of the verse altogether, having previously taken care 
to mark it in the text by italics, as one of doubtful autho¬ 
rity. Their ground of suspicion is thus stated : “ This* 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


553 


verse,” they say, “ was wanting in the copies of Marcion 
and other reputed heretics, and in some of the older copi¬ 
es in the time of Origen ; nor is it cited either by Justin , 
Jrenssus , or Tertullian, though the two former have quo¬ 
ted almost every text in Luke which relates to the cruci¬ 
fixion , and Tertullian wrote concerning the interme¬ 
diate state.” 

The first part of their argument, that “ the verse was 
wanting in the copies of Marcion , and other reputed he¬ 
retics, and in some of the older copies in the time of Ori¬ 
gen,” seems to have been borrowed from Griesbacb, who, 
without attempting to dislodge the verse from the text, or 
in any way to mark it as suspicious, simply makes the fol¬ 
lowing observation ; ee = (the sign of deficiency) Mar¬ 
cion ap. Epiph, Manichaei ap. Chrys. ap. Orig. ” 

Upon the illegitimacy of Marcion’s Gospel I have al¬ 
ready been sufficiently diffuse, as well as upon the inconsis¬ 
tency of those, who, in order fo get rid of some offensive, 
or to support some favourite text, at one time admit, and at 
another discard, the authority of that spurious production 
at pleasure. It seems therefore only necessary to refer to 
what I have previously adduced upon this subject; at the 
same time however reminding them, that when they at¬ 
tempt to cut out what they may conceive to be the cancer¬ 
ous excrescenses of Scripture, if they wish to prevent a 
self injury, they will find it wisdom to abstain from the 
double-edged knife of Marcion. 

Ilut it seems that the verse in question was also wanting 
in the copies of “ other reputed heretics.” What may 
be the exact preponderance of heretical authority against 
the uniform testimony of antiquity in their judgment, 1 
cannot pretend to determine ; it certainly seems consider¬ 
able ; and yet how is this compatible with the importance 
which they 7 annex to the laborious collations of Manu¬ 
scripts, Versions, and Fathers ? While most men conceive, 
that, in proportion to the number of such attestations in fa- 


554 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


vour of a particular reading, the greater appears to be the 
probability of its genuineness, will they adopt an inverse 
mode of calculation ? Or will they contend, that a single 
grain of reputed heresy outweighs, in point of credit, a 
whole ton of orthodoxy ? And who are the reputed here- 
ticks here alluded to ? As they have not condescended to 
give their names, we are left to conjecture. The extract 
however from Griesbach will enable us perhaps to guess, 
that they mean the Manichseans: But what possible rea¬ 
son can be assigned for suppressing the name of these he¬ 
retics ? I cannot suppose that they had examined the autho¬ 
rity of Griesbach; and, finding him inaccurate in his 
statement, yet still resolving to take the chance of hereti¬ 
cal suspicion, preferred the uncertainty of a general allu¬ 
sion to the precision of a particular description of persons, 
by way of avoiding the probability of detection. They 
rather perhaps adopt the mode in question, because they 
apprehended that the very term Manichseans, to the credit 
of whose supposed copies an appeal must have been made, 
might have produced in the reader’s mind an inconvenient 
association of ideas. That however which I do not ascribe 
to them, a distrust in the accuracy of Griesbach, I consi¬ 
der myself as a sufficient ground for rejecting this part of 
the testimony altogether. 

To the exertions of that laborious critic biblical litera¬ 
ture, I am fully convinced, is highly indebted ; nor do I 
hesitate to join with them in denominating his edition of 
the New Testament a work “ of unrivalled excellence and 
importance,” and in regarding it as not the least of his 
merits, that he contrived “to compress a great mass of 
critical information into as narrow a compass as possible, 
in order to bring it within the reach of those, who could 
not afford either the time, the labour, or the expense, 
which would be necessary to collect it from those nume¬ 
rous and expenses volumes in which it was diffused.” At 
the same time, however, I hold it requisite not to take too 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


555 


much from any critic upon trust, particularly from one, 
whose great merit consists in the compression of more 
bulky materials. Compression, we know, necessarily in¬ 
cludes some sort of omission, and omissions too often give 
rise to erroneous conceptions. Besides, may not the very 
compressor, by too hastily adopting a general conclusion, 
without sufficiently examining the particular premises, oc¬ 
casionally err himself, and consequently mislead others ? 
This, I contend, is precisely the case with Griesbach, in 
the text under consideration. Griesbach in the short note 
given above, manifestly borrows from Wetstein, intending 
to give the same references as that critic, but to suppress 
the quotations themselves. Wetstein states, that this verse 
was wanting in Marcion’s Gospel according to Epipbanius, 
and to Origen on John, p. 421. “ —(Wetstein’s sign of 
deficiency,) Marcion ap. Epiphanium, et Origenem in 
Joh. p. 421,” and quotes the passage from Origen. He 
then adds, without any sign prefixed, “ Chrysostomus T. 
V. 7. 0» Mavj^aioi etfiXa^opevoi <rx ronx rxrx (patfiv, siirsv 6 xupios, 

afA^jv x. t. X. xxxv avridorfis rjSrj jsyovs ruv aya&wv, xai -ffSpic7r) fy 

avatadig' - Si ya.g r\v <fu[Auruv avaSatfig, xx av swrsv x. r.X. 

aXX' sv tw xaif>(f) ttjs avvreXsiag orav rfwfAarwv ava^atfis .” Whether 
Wetstein meant to affirm, that the Manichaeans, according 
to Chrysostom, denied the validity of the text, or simply 
to remark that they particularly noted it, I will not pre¬ 
tend to determine. It seems certain, however, that Gries¬ 
bach conceived him to have the former object in view, and 
therefore observed, that the verse was rejected by the Mar- 
cionites according to Epiphanius, Manichseans according 
to Chrysostom , without ever reading, or if he read, with¬ 
out understanding, the passage in Chrysostom, alluded, to: 
for, had he correctly understood it, he would have found 
the very reverse of what he states to have been the fact. 
As the correction of an error in Griesbach may be deemed 
a point of some importance, I shall give the whole extract 
in dispute, which seems to have been taken from the pro- 



556 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


fessed writings of the Manichasans, in the words of Chry¬ 
sostom himself: Outoi (oi Maviy;aioi) toivuv STiXaSojASvoi tou yaupix 
txtx matfiv sitsv 6 Xpigos, afArjv Xsyw doi, dypspov {ast’ spov sdp 
sv toj zsagaSeidu' ouxouv avTidotfis - si yap sv sxsi vt\ ry >j/xspa. aTS- 
Xa§sv 6 Xy^yjs <ra ayaSa, to <5s rfojpta auTou oux avs^yj ou<5stw, xai 
rrifxsgov , ou s£ai do jp-aTwv Xoitov avajatfis' apa svoyjtfaTS to Xsy;Ssv, ■/] 
(5sutS£ov au to TaXiv sitsiv avayxyj ; a/xr,v, aprjv Xsyw tfoi, tfyj/ASPov 
f ast’ spx stfyj sv Tco tfagadsido) * sitfrjXSsv sv, cprjrfjv tov notgaSeidov o Xyj- 
^rjs ou fASTa tou tfwfxaTos. tw£ yap, oatots xx s-racpy] to tfwfxa auTou, ou<5s 
SisXu^vj, xai xovis sysvSTo ; xai xda/xx sigyrai, on avs^yjtfsv o Xgidos au- 
tov. si <5s sitfyjyays tov Xyj£>]v, xai )(w£is duparos aTyjXautfs twv 
ayaSwv, su<5y]Xov oti tfw paros oux s£iv ava£atfig, si yap y]v duparos 
ava'adis xx av sits' dypsp ov jast’ s/aou stfyj sv tw Tapafetfw, aXX’ 
sv tw xaipw tfuvTsXsiag, o<rav tfwfAaTav avatfatfis JT St Ss yj<5s Sitfyjyays 
tov Xyj^yjv, to (5s tfwjAa auTX <p5a?sv spstvsv sgw, SudyjXov oti tfw/Ascrwv 
avaSatfis sx stfi. TauTa sxsivoi.* Such then was the argument 

* Cbrysostomi Opera, vol. iv. p. 680. Ed. Montfaucon, Paris, 
1721. Art. Sermo in Genesim. 7. The following is the translation of 
Montfaucon: “ Iste locum hunc arripientes aiunt: Dixit Christas , 
Ainen amen, dico tibi, hddie inecum eris in paradiso.’ Igitur jani 
facta est bonorum retributio, et superflua erit resurrectio. Si enimf 
illo die latro bona recepit, corpus autem ejus nondum ad hunc usque 
diem resurrexit, non erit deinceps corporum resurrectio. Numquid 
intellexistis, quod diximus, an vero iterum illud dici neccsse est ? 

‘ Amen, amen, dico tibi, hodte mecum eris in paradiso.’ Ingressus est 
igitur, inquit, in paradisum latro non cum corpore. Quo enim pacto 
cum sepultum non esset corpus ejus, neque dissolutum, et in cineres 
redactum? Neque dictum usquam fuit, resuscitatum ilium a Christo 
fuisse. Quod si latronem introduxit, et absque corpore bonis potitus 
est, manifestum est corporis resurrectionem non esse. Nam si cor¬ 
poris esset resurrectio, non dixisset, ‘ Hodie mecum eris in paradiso,’ 
sed in tempore consummationi, quando, resurrectio corporum erit. 
Quod si jam latronem introduxit, corpus autem ejus foris curruptuin 
remansit, plane liquet corporum resurrectionem non esse. Atque base 
quidem illi.” 

Plow widely these reputed heretics differed in opinion from the 
Unitarians! The Manichseans believe that the soul survived the body, 
and that the body died never to exist again. The Unitarians main- 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


557 


of the Manichaeans ; from which it appears, that, instead 
of rejecting this text, they highly appreciated it, and even 
grounded upon it a favourite doctrine, that there wouid be 
no resurrection of the body , but. that, when we died, every 
thing material in our nature perished everlastingly. In 
further proof also that this sect acknowledged its legitima¬ 
cy, I might refer to a passage in Augustin, in which Faus- 
tus the Manichaean is thus introduced expressly quoting it: 
“ Neque enim quia et latronem quendam de cruce libera- 
vit idem noster Dominus, et, ipso eodem die securn futu- 
rum dixit eum in paradiso patris sui, quisquam invide- 
rit, aut inhumanus adeo esse potest, ut hoc ei displiceat 
tantae benignitatis officium. Sed tamen non idcirco dici- 
mus et latronum vitas ac mores nobis probabiles esse debere, 
quia Jesus latroni indulgentium dederit.”* 

It is evident therefore that Griesbach completely misre¬ 
presents the fact* when he asserts, that the Manichaeans 
disowned the verse in question. Whether, glancing his 
eye cursorily over the partial quotation of Wetstein, and 
forgetting the tenets of the sect, he conceived that the 
Manichaeans disclaimed the verse altogether, because it 
seemed inconsistent with the doctrine of a corporeal resur¬ 
rection, or whether he spared himself the trouble of consi¬ 
dering the quotation at all, is not very important. It is 
certain that he erred, drawing into the vortex of his error 
writers, who repose an implicit confidence in the accuracy 
of his statements. 

But to proceed ; we are also told, that this verse was 
wanting u in some o/ the older copies in the time of Ori- 
gen.” Is not this however advancing one step, at least, 

tain the reverse of both propositions. For an account of the dis¬ 
tinction between paradise and heaven, see Wetstein’s note on this 
text. 

* Contra Faustum Manichaeum, vol. iv. Ub. xxxiii. p. 490. Ed. 
1569. 


y y a 


55S 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


further than the position of Grieshach, who only remarks, 
that some persons rejected it according to Origen, Jiliqui 
apud Originem ? Upon what ground then rests the asser¬ 
tion, not that some persons disowned it, but that it was 
wanting in some of the older copies, in the time of that 
Father? And does not Grieshach too go a little beyond his 
predecessor Wetstein, in representing the aliqui , the some 
persons alluded to by Origen, as distinct from the Mar- 
cionites spoken of by Epiphanius? The words of Wetstein 
are those : “—Marcion apud Epiphanium et Origenem in 
.Toh. p. 421.” Surely the rejection here noted, upon the 
testimony of Epiphanius and Origen, is precisely one and 
the same ; viz. that by Marcion, and not by two different 
sects. Nor is this all. As the new Translators miscon¬ 
ceive Grieshach, and Grieshach misconceives Wetstein, so 
Wetstein also misconceives Origen, and makes for him a 
declaration which he never meant. The assertion of Ori¬ 
gen, so strangely mistaken, is comprised in the following 
short extract from this Commentary on John, as given by 
W etstein himself : Ou<rw <5s srapafs Tivots ug atfufjwpuvov <ro si pyjjjLS- 
vov, d£s ToX(X7]tfai avrous itfovorjcfai, <nrpo'e8’r]§ca <rw EuayfeXiw ant o <rivwv 
pa^ispywv auTO <ro, diyxsgov p.s<r’ S[xx sdj] sv <rw rfagaSeirfu <rx ©ss. * 
A 1 ' the same passage is quoted bv Gardner, I will subjoin 
his English translation, rather inelegant indeed, but suffi¬ 
ciently correct, “This saying has so disturbed some peo¬ 
ple, as appearing to them absurd, that they have ventured 
to suspect that it has been added by some that corrupt the 
Gospels: To-day shalt thou be with me in the paradise 
of God .”t 

Now there is certainly nothing in Origen, either ante- 

* “ Sic antem perturbavit hoc dictum nonnullos, ceu absonum, ut 
suspicari ausi fuerint luec verba, hodie mccwn eris in pciradiso Dei , 
addita fuisse Evan relio ab alip.ibus iliud adulterantibus.” Opera, v. 
ii. p. 4,1. Ed. Huetii. 

f Credibility, vol. iii. part ii. p. 375. Ed. 1738. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


559 


cedent or subsequent to this passage, from which it can be 
inferred, that he had the Marcionites in his eye. Nor does 
he say that any sect or sects whatsoever repudiated the 
verse in question ; but simply, that some persons were so 
disturbed at what appears to them its absurdity, that they 
dared (t oXp^tfou) to suspect it as an interpolation. Surely 
the distinction must be obvious between the position of 
suspecting and that of avowing , its illegitimacy ; so that 
Wetstein was clearly inaccurate, not only in fixing the al¬ 
lusion upon the Marcionites, but also in representing, as 
a direct repudiation , what was at most but a daring sus¬ 
picion. To suspect a text which may be disliked, is cer¬ 
tainly not new, either on the Heterodox or the Orthodox 
side of a question. To suspect it however is one thing, 
and to disclaim it another ; nor will the Unitarians, I pre¬ 
sume, dispute the difference, when they recollect, that 
some Trinitarians have suspected the authenticity of the 
words, “ neither the Son,” in Mark xiii. 32, where it is 
said, “ Of that day and of that hour knoweth no man, 
no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, 
but the Father.” Can it be hence argued, that certain 
Trinitarians have rejected them ? And if it could, would 
even this be deemed a circumstance sufficiently important 
to be recorded in disparagement of their validity ? I rather 
think it would not ; because a much stronger evidence has 
indeed been adduced against them, which is not permitted 
to throw the slightest shade of doubt upon their authenti¬ 
city. The Translators themselves remark, “Ambrose 
cites manuscripts which omit this clause,* and complains 

* The words of Ambrose are, Veteres codices Grceci non habent, 
quod nec Jllius scit. Sed non mirum, si et hoc falsarunt, qui Scriptu- 
ras interpolavere divinas.” De Fide, lib. v. c. 7. How are the older 
copies , the veteres codices, here expressly referred to by Ambrose, of 
such contemptible authority in comparison with the older copies sup¬ 
posed to be, but certainly not, referred to by Origen? 


5G0 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


that it was introduced by the Arians. But all manuscripts 
and versions now extant retain it, and it is cited by early 
writers.” It is by no means my intention to invalidate 
this favourite clause of the Unitarians ; but I will venture 
to ask, upon what principle can it be consistently main¬ 
tained, that the omission of this clause in some ancient 
Greek manuscripts of St. Mark’s Gospel, alluded to by 
«. Ambrose , is not to be considered as at least of equal weight 
with the omission of the two first, chapters of St. Matthew 
in the Gospel of the Ebionites, or of the two first chapters 
of St. Luke in the Gospel of theMarcionit.es, alluded to by 
Epiphanius; admitting that all manuscripts and versions 
now extant, as well as all citations of early writers, retain 
the respective passages in the contemplation of both ? 

On the whole, if Wetstein and Griesbach err in giving 
the sense of Origen, the Translators of the New Version 
deviate still more widely, when they represent him as 
stating the controverted verse to have been wanting in 
some of the older copies in his time. Had they consulted 
on the occasion an authority which they highly respect, 
that of Lardner, they would not have fallen into so gross 
a blunder, as they would have found his deduction from 
the same passage of Origen precisely opposite to their own. 
Lardner observes; “ It may be concluded from what Ori¬ 
gen says, that these words were in all copies ; and that 
they who objected against them had no copy to allege in 
support of their suspicion , hut only the absurdity of the 
thing itself in their opinion. For that is all that Origen 
mentions.”* Leaving them however to digest the position 
of Lardner, in flat contradiction to their own, as they can, 
I shall conclude this long discussion with a short remark 
upon the singularity, that such distinct results should be 
deduced from the same premises. The Translators of the 
New Version consider Origen as asserting, that the verse 


* Credibility, lit supra. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


561 


in dispute was wanting in some of the older copies in his 
time ; Griesbach, that some persons, (aiiqui,) not the Mar- 
cionites, repudiated it ; and VVetstein, that it was repudi¬ 
ated by the Marcionites. Now it is remarkable, that in 
these respective statements each should difter from the 
other, and all materially from the very author, on whose 
sole testimony they rely. To what, except to the most 
culpable negligence, can we impute this strange perver¬ 
sity ? 

I have been the more particular in my notice of this and 
the preceding point, not in order to create an invidious 
distrust of critics so justly distinguished as Wetstein and 
Griesbach, but to prove the necessity of carefully examin¬ 
ing ourselves the authorities cited by them, before we pre¬ 
sume privately to question, much more, pubiickly to ar¬ 
raign, the authenticity of any text whatsoever. And this 
necessity, I trust, has been sufficiently proved to those, 
whose only object is the simple investigation of truth. 

Having endeavoured to demonstrate, tiiat the first part 
of the Unitarian argument for the rejection of Luke xxiii. 
43, rests on no solid foundation, I come now to consider 
the second part of it. 

This verse then, we must observe, is to be found in all 
the manuscripts as well as versions extant, and is quoted 
by Fathers innumerable ; but it is not cited, it seems, 
by one or two early Fathers, and therefore doubts are to 
be entertained of its legitimacy. “It is not cited,” we 
are told, “ by Justin , Irenseus, or Tertullian , though the 
two former have quoted almost every text in Luke which 
relates to the crucifixion, and Tertullian wrote concerning 
the intermediate state.” 

Before I proceed to the particulars of these confident 
assertions, may I be permitted to ask, if the writers allud¬ 
ed to had really quoted the passage in dispute, whether 
that circumstance would have been admitted as conclusive 
upon the point of its authenticity ? The question, I con- 


562 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


ceive, must be answered in the negative; for all three"' 
have distinctly quoted texts from the first and second chap¬ 
ters of St. Luke: yet we find that the Unitarians persist in 
marking for rejection those very portions of both Evange¬ 
lists. They will not surely maintain, that the direct tes¬ 
timony of an early writer is to be considered as of no de¬ 
cisive weight m favour of the received text, although his 
silence may be constructed into sufficient evidence against 
it ? 

But I may be told, that they object not to admit the 
testimony of these writers upon points solely connected 
with the general received copies of St. Matthew and St. 
Luke, when it is uncontradicted in the first instance by the 
Gospel of the Ebionites, and in the second by that of the 
Marcionites ; Gospels of higher reputation than the com¬ 
mon copies, because of more remote antiquity. Shew us 
they may say, a text quoted by either of these writers, 
which is omitted in manuscripts ot a more recent date, 
and is not discredited by the fragments above ailuued to, 
and we will instantly acknowledge its validity. 1 might 
observe in reply, that tne disputed chapters of S>t. Matthew 
and St. Luke, even upon tne very ground oi antiquity 
alledged, ought to be deemed genuine, because the}/ are re¬ 
ferred to by writers, who living in tne second century, 
quoted from copies which must have been more ancient 
than the supposed copies of tne Ebionites and ot the Mar¬ 
cionites, from which Epiphanius quoted, v\ho lived in the 
fourth century. But, to meet every possible objection, 

* Justin, in Dialog, cum Tryphone, Ed. Paris 1636. p. 303, 304; 
and in Apol, ii. p. 75; lrenaeus, lib. iii, c. 18. Ed Grabe, p. 239, and 
lib iii. c. 11. p. 214; and Tertuilian in Arg. adversus Judagos Ed. Ri- 
galt. Paris 1664. p. 193, and De Carne Christi, p. 321. Nor are 
these the only places where the disputed chapters are referred to by 
the same writers. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


563 


I will bring forward an instance, in which only copies of 
the same precise nature are concerned. 

In Luke xxii. verses 43, 44, are printed in italics as of 
dubious authority, and we are told in a note, that, “these 
verses are wanting in the Vatican, the Alexandrian, and 
other manuscripts.” (it should have been stated, in three 
other manuscripts of the same class with the Vatican, and 
neither of them of any higher antiquity than the eleventh 
or twelfth centuries,*) “and are marked as doubtful in 
some in which they are inserted.” Now admitting all 
this in its fullest extent, still I apprehend it must follow, 
if they are clearly cited by writers who could only have 
been conversant with manuscripts which were long prior 
in date to the Vatican and Alexandrian, or indeed any 
others. And they are certainly cited both by Justin and 
Irenaeus. That they were acknowledged by Justin, Irena3- 
us, and many Inter fathers, Griesbach might have inform¬ 
ed them,t had they been disposed to consider both sides 
of the evidence, although he would not have referred them 
to the particular passages. Justin remarks : Ev ya p toiS 
atfojxviiyovSu'J.atfiv, a cppyi $<iro tow goto oAojv auTa xai tgjv sxsivoig <ifa- 
^axoXsSpo'avTGjv tfuvTSraySai, 6n ISgus ojtfsi Spop^oi xars^siro aurs 
Suyop-sva xai Xeyovrog, <ffo(Ps)AsTGJ Si 8v\iar ov, to rforrigiov tsto. 
“Nam in libris, qui sunt ah ejus diseipulis, ipsorumque 
sectatorihus compositi, memoriae mandatum est, sudorem 
ipsius tamquam guttus sanguinis dejluxisse in terrain , 

* It should likewise have been addpd, that in the first of the three, 
the commencement of these verses, wtpSni 8s is notwithstanding writ¬ 
ten by the same hand which originally transcribed the MS. the re¬ 
mainder being supplied by another and more recent hand in the mar¬ 
gin ; and that in the second , although the verses are evidently wanting 
here, they yet occur in another Gospel, viz. after Matthew xxvi. 39. 
See Griesbach. 

f Agnoscunt Justin, Hippol. Epiph. Chrvs. Tit. bostr. Caesarius, 
Iren. Hier. 


564 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


eo deprecante et dicente, Transeat , fi fieri potest pocul- 
um hoc.” Dial, cum Tryphone in Opera, p. 331. So 
also Irenaeus :—s<5’ av eSaxgutfsv stfi <rx a<5’ av i Sguue 

§ss KifxaTos “ —nec lacrymasset super Lazarum nec sudas- 
set globos sanguinis” Lib. iii. c. 32. p. 260. Since 
therefore the Gospel of Marcion is not recorded to have 
omitted these verses, and as they are expressly cited by 
such early writers as Justin and Irenaeus, how is it that 
they are marked for excision upon the sole authority of 
manuscripts confessedly written at a later period ? 

But to return to the principal text in controversy : we 
may surely admit that it is not quoted by Justin, Irenaeus, 
or Tertullian, without at all impeaching its authenticity ; 
for if no texts are to be deemed genuine, upon which these 
Fathers are wholly silent, many of considerable importance 
in the judgment of different parties must be expunged from 
the canon of Scripture. Aware perhaps of this, the Trans¬ 
lators attempt to assign a particular reason, why silence on 
this occasion is to be necessarily construed into ignorance. 
They say, that the omission is the more remarkable, be¬ 
cause “ the two former have quoted almost every text in 
Luke which relates to the crucifixion, and Tertullian 
wrote concerning the intermediate state.” But are these 
assertions true? The first most certainly is not : nor is the 
last in that sense in which alone it can bear upon the argu¬ 
ment. Justin is so far from quoting every text in St. Luke 
which relates to the crucifixion, that from the whole of 
this twenty-third chapter, consisting of fifty-six verses 
upon the subject, I have been able to discover only one 
(the 46th)* which is clearly cited by him. I allude of 
course to his genuine writings, and not to others incor¬ 
rectly imputed to him ; for if the latter are to be brought 
forward, we shall t find perhaps two more verses quot- 


* Dial, cum Tryphone in Oper. p.333. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 565 

cd,* but one of these will be the very verse in question . 
Irenaeus also, it is remarkable, refers but once to the same 
chapter, and that is to the 13th verse.t As to TertuJlian, 
he certainly wrote a distinct treatise upon the intermediate 
state, or rather, upon the subject of Paradise ; for he him¬ 
self thus expressly informs us ; <( Habes etiam de paradiso 
ti nobis libellum, quo constituimus omnem animam apud 
inferos sequeslrari in diem Domini but the Translators 
forget to add, (a little circumstance of some importance to 
the question,) that this treatise is not now extant. What 
therefore it might, or might not, have contained in the 
way of quotation, it must be as useless to conjecture, as it 
is absurd to urge. 

The only general reflection which 1 shall make upon this 
singular tissue of strange misconceptions, and strange mis¬ 
representations, is this ; that, if their metaphysical argu¬ 
ments upon the nature of the human soul, and its sleep af¬ 
ter death, be founded upon no better reasoning than that 
which is here exhibited to discredit a passage of Scripture 
countenancing an opposite doctrine, the philosopher must 
despise, and the critic deride them. 

* Viz. v. 34, and v. 43. Quaestiones et Respon. ad Orthod. in Ope- 
xibus, p. 463, and p. 437. 

j- Lib. iii. c. 20. p. 247. 

| Opera, p. 204. 


y z 2 


566 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


CHAP. V. 

Perplexing Anomalies in the Theory of 
articles. 

Hitherto I have considered the attempts of these Trans¬ 
lators to get rid of particular passages of Scripture which 
cannot well be explained in conformity with their own 
Creed, by discarding them as unauthentic. I come now 
to notice another exercise of their ingenuity, by which, 
for similar theological purposes, they give to certain undis¬ 
puted texts meanings directly the reverse of those which 
are usually affixed to them. With this view they render 
©eos 6 Aoyos, John i. I, “ the Word was a God;” and sau- 
tov Ylov ra @ss eiror / i < fsv , John xix, 7, “ made himself a Son 
of God contemplating the insertion of the English in¬ 
definite, as necessarily resulting from the omission of the 
Greek definite, Article. Their object, both here and in 
other instances of the same kind, clearly is to divest our 
Saviour of every claim to divinity which a peculiar title 
might be supposed to give him, and to represent him not 
as God, or as the Son of God emphatically, but as a God, 
or a Son of God metaphorically. The rule indeed, which 
they have thus adopted, is not properly their own ; it was 
originally a fruit of Arian growth : but, not being suited 
to the general taste, it hung for a time mellowing and ne¬ 
glected. As the Unitarians however seem disposed, if pos¬ 
sible, to establish its credit, let us examine a little its pre¬ 
tensions to public approbation. 

If it be really the produce of sound criticism, and not 
of mere theological conceit, it must not only appear cor¬ 
rect in one or two solitary instances, but prove of general 
approbation. Upon this principle let us try it. 

In the last clause then of John i, 1, ©sos yjv 6 Aoyos is ren- 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


567 


dered, us I have observed, “ the Word is a God,” be¬ 
cause the article 6 is not annnexed to ®sos. But why do 
not the Translators, for the same reason, also render sv 
a PX?J o Aoyoj, in the first clause of the verse, “ in a be¬ 
ginning,” that is, at some indefinite commencement, “ was 
the Word,” instead of “in the beginning,” in conformi¬ 
ty with the common translation ? The true cause perhaps 
it is easy to conjecture. This would completely militate 
against the only sense in which they will allow the expres¬ 
sion to be taken ; the words “ in the beginning” meaning, 
as Ihey choose to say after Socinus, “from the commence¬ 
ment of the Gospel dispensation, or of the ministry of 
Christ.” 

But, concealing the secret motive, they may urge in 
their defence, that the phrase “ in a beginning” would be 
an obscure sort of expression, while the other, 11 a God,” 
is sufficiently intelligible. This is true : but it only serves 
to show, at the very outset, the general inapplicability of 
their favourite rule. That the phrase “« God” is suffi¬ 
ciently intelligible cannot indeed be disputed ; yet may 
the rule itself be justly controverted, which uniformly 
supplies the absence of the Greek Article by the English 
indefinite Article. For if we proceed with a consistent 
translation of the same word ©sos, in the same chapter of 
St. John, we shall find it necessary either immediately to 
abandon the rule altogether, or to represent the Evangelist 
as establishing a plurality of Gods. When, for example, 
in v, 6, it is said, “there was a man sent from God, 

©£s,” if we translate this “from a God;” when also in 
v, 13, the faithful are described as children of God, 'rzv.w. 
@S 2 s, if we translate this “ children of a God ;” and when 
in 5, IS, it is affirmed, that “ no man has at any time seen 
God, ©gov,” if we render this too “ a God,” shall we not 
introduce the. Evangelist as countenancing the opinion, that 
there are more Gods than one? To avoid so manifest ail 
absurdity, as well as impiety, we here find the Unitarians 


568 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


departing from their own principle, and translating ©so?, in 
all these instances, God , without an Article. Is not this 
a specimen of polemical legerdemain rather than of rational 
criticism, which conjures up a little convenient Article for 
a particular deception, and then instantly, in a subsequent 
display of skill, commands its absence ? 

To what subterfuge can they fly in order to escape the 
imputation of inferring a plurality of gods ? Ji is an article 
which evidently relates to number, as the French an. And 
thus perhaps they themselves intend it should be taken, 
when they put into the mouth of the Centurion the words, 

Truly this was a son of a God Matt, xxvii. 54, be¬ 
cause the Centurion may be supposed to have been an hea¬ 
then. But how will they explain, consistently with the 
doctrine of the Divine Unity, the following declaration, 
which they ascribe to our Saviour ; “ God is not a God of 
the dead, but of the living ?” Matt. xxii. 32. Were we 
correctly to express the proposition, that the Gentiles, and 
not the Jews, acknowledge the messiahship of our blessed 
Lord, instead of saying, that Christ is not a Christ, should 
we not rather say, that Christ is not the Christ of the Jews, 
but of the Gentiles ? Or, to use a more familiar illustration, 
were we, when alluding to the hands in which the sove¬ 
reignty of this kingdom is lodged, to describe an exalted 
individual, not as “ the,” but as “a King of England,” 
would it not imply, that England is governed by more 
kings than one ? It is impossible however for a moment to 
suppose, that they mean to insinuate a polytheism abhor¬ 
rent from their creed, particularly when we reflect, that 
their creed uniformly rules the text, and not the text their 
creed. 

Had they indeed pursued their own rule, as consistency 
required, in every instance, numerous absurdities would 
have arisen, against which common sense must have in¬ 
stantly revolted. I shall instance one out of many. Our 
Saviour says, in reply to the Tempter, (( It is written ; 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


569 


Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word 
which proceeded from the mouth of God , <5ia so^aros ©sx,” 
Matt., iv. 4. Now these words, upon the principle of sup¬ 
plying our Article a, whenever the Greek Article is omit¬ 
ted, should have been translated, “ from a mouth of a 
God a phrase which would have implied, not only that 
there are more gods than one, but that every god has more 
mouths than one ; and thus would they have represented 
our blessed Saviour as teaching a polytheism of India. 

If I am asked, “What line then would you pursue? 
Would you, when you translate a Greek noun without the 
Article, reject the use of the English Article a, and admit 
that of the English Article the, or would you translate it 
in English, as in Greek, without any Article at all ?” My 
answer is, that in every instance of the kind, we should 
commit ourselves to the guidance, not of a supposed infal¬ 
lible canon, but of common sense and the context. On 
different occasions different modes of translation must be 
adopted : and instances may be quoted in which all three 
modes occur in the same passage. Thus, E ysvsro av^woros 
airsiak fjisvos oroc^a ©sr ovojuux avru Iavvyjs, John i. 6, when ful¬ 
ly and correctly rendered, will be, “ There was a man 
sent from God; the name of whom (or the name to him) 
was John .” Is it possible for any Translator, how much 
soever influenced by a bigoted attachment to self opinion, 
and b) 7 a fond affeotation of singular theory, to contend, 
that the words avS^utfos ©sou, and ovofia, in this verse, all 
without the Article, are all to be translated in one and the 
same way ? 

But it may perhaps be said, if such uncertainty exists on 
these occasions, how are we to ascertain the precise import 
of a Greek noun so circumstanced ? This question how¬ 
ever is easily answered by asking another, How do we 
ascertain the precise import of a Latin noun, under simi¬ 
lar circumstances ? The Latin noun, it is plain, must be 
used, not occasionally, but always, without an Article, he- 


570 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


cause the Latin language has none ; yet we contrive to 
settle what we conceive to be its genuine sense in all 
cases, without stumbling upon any difficulty of this de¬ 
scription. Why should more perplexity arise in the Greek 
language ? 

Whatsoever pointed peculiarity of meaning the presence 
of the Greek Article may be supposed sometimes to indi¬ 
cate, no uniform analogy of construction, 1 presume, can 
be argued from its absence. Its ellipses are perpetual ; and 
a thousand instances may be adduced, in which neither its 
omission, nor its addition, appears to create the slightest 
difference. It is not however my intention, nor does the 
subject require me, to enter into an elaborate discussion 
upon its philological importance or insignificance. Nothing 
perhaps is more difficult than to define the exact nature 
and legitimate use of Articles in a living language, as the}' 
frequently give birth to anomalies which depend upon an 
usage, bidding defiance to the shackles of system. And 
if this be the case in a living language, in a dead one the 
difficulty must be incalculably augmented. I shall never¬ 
theless venture to consider a little more minutely, yet as 
briefly as I can, the question of the correspondence be¬ 
tween the English and Greek modes of expressing nouns, 
in order to point out the impossibility of restricting that 
correspondence by any rule or rules universally applicable. 

In English there are evidently three distinct modes of 
Expressing nouns; one, without an Article absolutely; 
another, with the Article a, which refers to number, inde¬ 
finitely ; and a third, with the Article the definitely. An 
instance of all three modes occurs in the use of the word 
light ; of the first, when God said, “Let there be light,” 
Gen. i. 3, of the second, when the Messiah is declared to 
be “ a light to lighten the Gentiles,” Luke ii. 32, and of 
the third, when our Saviour terms himself “ the light of 
the world,” John viii. 12. So also the word sin in the 
following passages; “ All unrighteousness is sin,” John 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


571 


v. 17, “There is a sin unto death,” ib. 16, “Rebellion 
is as the sin of witchcraft,” 1 Sam. xv. 23. Few nouns 
however admit the three modes ; most only the two lat¬ 
ter ; and some the last alone ; as the noun sun , which is 
always denominated the sun, for although it may be some¬ 
times used with the Article a prefixed, yet it can then only 
be taken hypothetically with reference to other suns, which 
we conceive to exist in the boundless expanse of creation. 

If we fancy that in this diversity we still perceive some¬ 
thing of invariable system, that fancy, as we proceed, 
must soon forsake us, when we turn to the perplexing an¬ 
omalies introduced by the caprice of usage. A man , for 
instance, and a horse , are both indeed to be considered as 
belonging to one genus, viz. animal ; yet we use the word 
man absolutely, in order to denote the species, as “God 
made man’’ while it would be incorrect to use the other 
word in the same manner. How too shall we account for 
the following peculiarities? We never say a thunder, but 
always thunder; while, on the contrary, we never say 
hurricane but always an hurricane ; so that of two nouns 
apparently similar, one is found to be deficient in the se¬ 
cond, and the other in the first mode of expression. 

An ellipsis likewise of the Article the frequently occurs, 
for which we can seldom assign a satisfactory reason. We 
may indeed sometimes attribute it to colloquial brevity, as 
when “ the house top” is used for the top of the house, 
and when “ horse-hair” is used for the hair of the horse : 
but how shall we account for it on more important occa¬ 
sions, as when earth is put for the earth which we inhabit, 
and not for the mere element so denominated ? For although 
we cannot in the sense alluded to correctly term God the 
Creator of earth , yet may we term him the Creator of 
heaven and earth ; and we also daily pray, that his will 
may be done in or on earth . Upon what principle is this 
variety to be explained ? 

And, if no happy twist of logical dexterity can wreath 




572 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


stragglers of this nature into the fantastical chaplet of our 
system, what success can we promise ourselves with others 
still more rambling and perverse ? We apply, for example, 
the terms heaven and sky synonymously to designate the 
vaulted expanse above our heads ; yet we express them 
differently, for we use the former always without, but the 
latter always with, the definite article. Again, before the 
name of tha. which possesses an existence unlike to all 
others, and which is of so peculiar a nature as not to admit 
the idea of number, it is usual to place the definite Article, 
as the sun, the moon, and the world. And to w'hat other 
class can the word God> as signifying the one supreme and 
self-existing Being, be properly assigned ? Yet we do not, 
under this application of the term, say, the God, as we say 
the sun, definitely, but God absolutely. 

It seems then, that, in explanation of such incongruities, 
we must have recourse, not to any infallible code of philo¬ 
logical laws, but to an usage disdainful of all restriction. 
Nor is even this principle to be considered as uniform in 
its operation, and constant in its character. Fickle, fluc¬ 
tuating, unstable, it subverts and reestablishes, erects and 
demolishes, at pleasure, and sometimes abandons even its 
own innovations. A style of expression to which we are 
not habituated we are apt to pronounce abhorrent from the 
genius of our languauge; but that supposed genius, particu¬ 
larly in the case before us, too often mocks description : 
when we attempt to seize and examine it, it assumes so 
shadowy and flitting a form as to elude our grasp. To 
what, for example, but to the flux of fashion, and the cap¬ 
rice of usage, can we ascribe the various modes of express¬ 
ion adopted in the different translations of the tenth verse 
of the thirty-second Psalm ? The Common-Prayer-Book 
Version renders it thus: “Be ye not like to horse and 
mule , which have no understanding, whose mouths must 
be held with bit and bridle The Bible Version thus : 

“ Be ye not as the horse and the mule, which have no un- 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 573 

derstanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and 
bridle We here perceive, in the first instance a total, 
omission of the definite and indefinite Articles; then sub- 
sequeutty, a restoration of the former, but not of the latter ; 
while, in the present day, propriety would require a res¬ 
toration of both: for instead of “whose mouth must be 
held in with bit and bridle ,” we should now rather say, 
“ whose mouth must be held in with a bit and a bridle .” 
Nor, in proof that our idea of correctness depends more 
upon habit than system, ought the provincialism of coun¬ 
ties to be overlooked : for, to an ear familiar only with the 
dialect of Cumberland, the perpetual insertion of Articles 
does not sound less harsh and uncouth than the perpetual 
omission of them to a more polished ear. 

If therefore the English language be in its use of Arti- 
cles so irregular, how are we precisely to point out, and 
to restrain by certain unerring laws, its correspondence in 
this respect with the Greek language? It is well known, 
that in Greek there is only one Article, which is in gene¬ 
ral correctly translated by our definite Article the ; yet on 
some occasions must we translate it indefinitely, and on 
others absolutely. With regard to its indefinite accepta¬ 
tion, should a prejudice for system induce us to su¬ 
spect the meaning of to o^os, Matt. v. 1, and to ttAoiov, 
Matt. i. 1, we must surely render to poStov, Matt. v. 
15, a measure; 6 foScaJxoChog, John iii. 10, a teacher; tov 
ctv6j>u* ov, John vii. 51, a (or, as the New Version has it, 
any ) man; and to -j^Aos, John v iii- 44, a lie. Nor will 
the absolute sense in which the noun connected with it is 
occasionally taken, appear doubtful, when we observe, that 
tv]v <5ixaio tfuvrjv, Matt. v. .6, can only signify righteousness, 
not the or a righteousness ; r\ x K p‘= xaj b aAojSsia, John i. 
17, grace and truth ; and ex ts Sava™ eig ryv £w?]v, John v. 
24, from death to life. I use the strong terms must and 
can without fear of contradiction, because the New Ver¬ 
sion itself sanctions their application. 


574 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


But further, as a Greek noun with the Article must be 
variously rendered, so also, as I have already remarked, 
without the Article, must it be understood sometimes de¬ 
finitely, sometimes indefinitely, and sometimes absolutely. 
Having previously however adverted to these points, I 
shall not fruitless!}' multiply examples, only subjoining, 
with respect to the first mode of expression alluded to, a 
single passage, which, even if it stood alone, would, I 
conceive, prove decisive upon the subject. St. John says, 
wpa 7)v ws Ssxarr), c. iv. 6. Would it not be nonsense to 
translate this a an hour” instead of “ the hour was about 
the tenth ?” 

When these different circumstances are contemplated ; 
when we consider that in our own language the addition or 
omission of an Article is often attributable 4 o no other case 
than to the predominance of a paramount usage ; when we 
perceive similar irregularities to exist in the Greek lan¬ 
guage ; and the correspondence between both to be regula¬ 
ted by no fixed and determinate principles ; who will boast 
of reducing to the subjection of rule forms of expression 
superior to all rule? We are indeed too apt, on every oc¬ 
casion, to represent pleonasms and ellipses as systematical 
ornaments, instead of what they often are, unsystematical 
blemishes, of language ; and to dream of indescribable 
elegancies, where little perhaps is really discoverable except 
the negligence of habit, or the peculiarity of custom: but 
as well may we attempt to chain the wind, as to restrict 
diversity of usage in the redundance or suppression of Ar¬ 
ticles, by any thing like an invariable uniformity of con¬ 
struction, 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


575 


CHAP. VI. 

Existence of on Evil Being. Translation of 
the words 2a<rav and AiaSoAoj. 

Another effort to regulate Scripture by the standard of 
Uuitarian faith occurs in the singular mode of occasionally 
translating-the words 2a<rav and AiaSoXos, not as proper names* 
but as nouns appellative. They are therefore thus render¬ 
ed in the following passages : “ Get thee behind me, thou 
adversary, Matt. xvi. 23. Have I not chosen you twelve? 
And yet one of you is a false accuser, John vi. 71 : There 
hath been given to me a thorn in the flesh, an angel-ad¬ 
versary to buffet me, 2 Cor. xii. 7. Give not advantage to 
the slanderer, Ephes. iv. 28. Lest the adversary should 
gain advantage over us ; for we are not ignorant of his 
devices, 2 Cor. ii. 11. Have been taken captive by the 
accuser, 2 Tim. ii. 26 .” 

The object proposed by this translation, and explicitly 
avowed in various explanatory notes, introduced at almost 
every possible opportunity, evidently is, to exclude from 
the Christian creed, in conformity with the sentiments of 
the Unitarian school, the doctrine of an evil Being supe¬ 
rior to man. They think it, I presume, irrational to sup¬ 
pose, that a being of this description exists, because such 
an existence falls not immediately under the cognizance of 
the human faculties ; and what they do not think it ration¬ 
al to conceive, they will not allow to be contained in holy 
Scripture. Hence they tell us more than once, that the 
term devil means only “ the principle of evil personified/ 7 
Matt. xiii. 39 ; John viii. 44 ; 1 John iii. 8. 

To enter into a philosophical discussion of this subject 
would be foreign to my design, as well as irrelevant to the 
point which can be correctly said to be in controversy. 


576 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


The point in dispute is rather a question of fact than one 
of philosophy : it is simply, whether Jewish opinions and 
Jewish phraseology will warrant us in concluding, that by 
the expressions 2 arav and AiaSoXos our Saviour and his Apos¬ 
tles meant a real person, or merely a personified quality. 

Truths universally admitted require no formal definition; 
they are usually introduced in the way of allusion, and in 
most instances are solely deducible from some opinion 
stated, or for some fact recorded, by inference. If then 
the existence of an evil spirit be no where directly asserted 
in the Old Testament, we must not on that account ima¬ 
gine, that it is not expressly implied there, for a similar 
remark may be made respecting the doctrine of a future 
state ; and yet are we forbidden by Christ himself to deny 
that it is there distinctly taught, Matt. xxii. 32. 

In the book of Job, a book to which critics coincide in 
imputing the highest antiquity,* an evil Being, under the 

* Carpzovius, if not the last, doubtless not the least, of bibilical 
critics, gives the following opinion, as the result of his reflections upon 
the subject of its antiquity: “Sic divinus jam ante Mosen extabat 
Jobi liber poeticus, ad instructionem fidelium lectus quidem, et asser- 
vatus, sed Canonico nondum agtuptxrt insignis. Postquam autem di- 
vinis auspiciis Mosis opera condendi Canonis sacrifactum esset initium, 
diu post, circa Samuelis forte sstatem, ejusdemque ni fallor manu, 
divini numinis jussu, canonicis idle libris additus et ad latus Areas in 
Sanctuario publice repositus videtur, cum Prologo ac Epilogohistorico 
SjeorfvsuSos ornasset auxissetque ilium Samuel, ut quae sermonum a Jo- 
bo exaratoruin occasio, quis scopus, quis historiie nexus, quae rerum 
gestarum series, et catastrophe fuerit, ad communemEccelesiae omni¬ 
um temporum notitiam et edificationem, ad oculum patere. Ut adeo 
geminum agnoscat liber scriptorem , Jobitm, qua sui parte metro est, 
adstrictus, et Samuelem, quod ad capito priora duo, et postremum 
attinet. Ad Samuelem vero ea de causa referre malui, quod loquendj 
modus, in priore Samuelis libro adhibitus, ex asse illi respondet, quo 
prosaica in libro Jobi capita personant. Tam plane tam perspicue turn 
pure ulrobique sermo se habet Ebrceus , tam ordinate porro, ox succincte 
nstrratioms series ut ovum vix ovo similius.” Tntroductio ad Lib. 
Poet. Bibl. p. 53. Ed. 1731. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


577 


designation of Satan, is directly noticed as appearing in 
the divine presence, and as obtaining permission to attack 
the integrity of Job by the severest temporal afflictions. 
This character, it is true is considered by some as merely 
ideal, as nothing more than an elegant embellishment of a 
sublime poem. Those, however, who thus consider it, do 
not perhaps sufficiently reflect, that poets are not philoso¬ 
phers : that the celestial Beings usually described by them 
are not the sole creatures of their own imagination, but 
such as are to be found in the popular creed of their times ; 
and that the gods of Homer and Virgil, not less than the 
angels and devils of Milton, were supposed to exist in na¬ 
ture. Besides, if we are at liberty to presume that Satan 
is an ideal character, are we not at equal liberty to presume 
the same of the other party, in the dialogue, even of God 
himself? 

But, in truth, it is impossible for the character of Satan 
to be here contemplated as a mere poetical embellishment; 
and that for the plainest of all reasons ; because the chap¬ 
ters in which it is introduced contain nothing bearing the 
slightest resemblance of poetry, the two first chapters of 
Job are manifestly prosaical, and are expressed after the 
manner of the simplest and purest narrative. No metrical 
composition occurs until the third chapter, and then com¬ 
mences a style wholly dissimilar, to the preceding, not 
only as being poetical, but as appearing, in the judgment 
of the best critics, to be replete with Arabisms, and an 
obsolete Hebrew phraseology anterior to the times of Moses. 
Since therefore the preparatory narrative, in which alone 
any mention is made of Satan, is perfectly prosaical, and 
bespeaks a different author, as well as a latter period, it is 
absurd to throw out crude conjectures about poetical ima¬ 
gery, where neither metre nor poetry exists. 

With the passage alluded to in Job may be compared 
another in 1 Kings xxii. 19, in which the prophet Michaiah 
describes an almost similar transaction in almost similar 


57S 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


terms. The hosts of heaven are represented in both in¬ 
stances as standing in the presence of God, and a particu¬ 
lar spirit is noticed as introducing himself into the angeli¬ 
cal assembly, and as councelling, and subsequently execu¬ 
ting evil against an individual among men. This spirit is 
in Job denominated j fa&tl the Satan , a word usually con¬ 
sidered as derived from a root signifying to hate or oppose ; 
in the book of Kings he is denominated niin the spirit ; 
the former being a designation taken from the malignity of 
his disposition, the latter one taken from the immortality 
of his nature. That the prophet Michaiah meant by the 
expression (TOn a superior Being of a particular descrip¬ 
tion , seems evident from the demonstrative prefix j”J ; and 
as a superior Being of a particular descirption, is directly 
pointed out, is not his identity with the Satan of Job appa¬ 
rent from the nature of his counsel and agency, from his 
becoming “a lying spirit” ITH in the mouths of 

the prophets of Ahab, to lead that prince on to destruction? 
Although we were to admit that the inspired writers might 
in neither instance intend to represent the celestial council 
as an actual occurrence, adopting the form of dialogue, 
that prominent feature of all oriental composition, because 
it was the most usual and most impressive; yet would it 
be one thing to suppose the dialogue, and another to sup¬ 
pose the characters, to which it is ascribed, fictitious. Nor 
does it appear more reasonable to make a partial selection 
among those characters at pleasure ; to consider God and 
the angels as real beings, and Satan, the principal agent in 
both transactions, as an imaginary one ; to introduce the 
Deity himself conversing with an absolute non-entity. Be' 
sides, even in the boldest style of prosopopoeia, it would 
be unintelligible, to affix any other denomination to the 
thing or quality personified, than its true and appropriate 
one. Thus had Solomon, in his elegant personification of 
wisdom , (Proverbs viii.) substituted for ivisdom the term 
friendship, because wisdom is friendly to the best inte- 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


579 


rests of man ; or, what would have been still more obscure, 
the friend ; would not his allusion have been utterly in¬ 
comprehensible ? And yet must we say, according to what 
Unitarians consider as the only rational exposition of the 
passage, that the author of the two first chapters of Job, 
when he wished to personify evil, sufficiently marked his 
meaning by adopting the expression the enemy , so¬ 

lely because evil is inimical to man. 

To the preceding quotations from Job and Kings may be 
subjoined another of a similar import. It is this : “ And 
he shewed me Joshua the high-priest standing before the 
angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right 

hand to resist him, jCOu* 7 . And the Lord said unto Satan , 
The Lord rebuke thee, 0 Satan.” Zech. iii. 1, 2. Here 
some have conjecture 1, that the word Satan means only 
those adversaries who opposed the high-priest in the re¬ 
building of the temple, after the return of the Israelites 
from captivity. It is remarkable, however, that St. Jude 
gives the precise form of reproof mentioned by Zechariah 
on this occasion ; “ The Lord rebuke thee,” as one used 
by Michael the archangel in a contention with something 
more than a mere human adversary. Indeed most com¬ 
mentators are disposed to think, that St. Jude alludes to 
this very passage in Zechariah ; and much ingenuity has 
been exhibited* in reconciling the texts. But for my pre- 

* Certainly not the least ingenious conjecture on this subject is that 
of Stosch, which Schleusner gives in the following terms: Jude 9, ad 
quem locum tamen aliam eamque ingeniosam conjecturam protulit 
Stosch in Archseol. CEconom. N. T. p. 41, qui duipa Mwutfsws red- 
dit servum Mosis, ipsumque adeo pontificem maximum Josuarn intelli- 
git, simulque monet tfw,ua in notione mancipii , servi , etiam honors,tiori 
sensu adhiberi de militibus cvjuscunquc ordinis .” Lexic. Art. ffuipa. 
For the acceptation of tiwpv. in the sense of a servant, see Wetstein in 
Apoc. xviii. 13. 

Schoetgen, in his Horae Talmud, vol. i. p. 1030, offers another con¬ 
jecture. He considers o'y/xa Mwvrfsws as a Hebraism, meaning only’ 


5S0 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON TEE 


sent purpose it is not perhaps material. If St. Jude really 
alludes to it, the meaning of the word Satan, at least as he 
understood it, will be evident. If he does not, but refers 
to another author and a different transaction, this, instead 
of diminishing, will be only adding to, the testimony ; for 
even apocryphal testimony, in corroborating the usual ac¬ 
ceptation of a particular phrase, must be deemed admissi¬ 
ble. If therefore the style of the angelical reproof be the 
same in Zechariah, in St. Jude, and in a preceding apocry¬ 
phal, author, and if the party reproved be in each instance 
described under the same appellation, will it not follow, 
that in each instance also the same character is designated ? 

So general indeed was the persuasion among the Jews of 
this reproof being uttered to an infernal spirit, that in the 
Talmud we find the repetition of the very words alluded 
to proposed as the most effectual protection against the at¬ 
tacks of Satan. The superstitious Talmudists* caution 
their timid disciple, a warning said to have been given by 
Sammuel, who is elsewhere termed Satan, the angel of 
death, not to stand in the way of a female procession re¬ 
turning from a funeral, “because/ 5 saith the angel of death, 
“ because I, with sword in hand, leap exulting before it, 
and I possess the dominion of torture. 



But if,” continues the Gemara, “ the meeting be unavoid¬ 
able, what is his remedy ? Let him recede some paces 
from the spot. If a river be near, let him ford it ; or if a 
road in another direction, let him proceed that way ; or 
if a wall, let him stand behind it. But if, no retreat ap- 

Moses himself : but he does not make out his point. In Rabbinical 
Hebrew indeed 2U is used reciprocally, but always, I conceive, with 
a pronominal affix, and not in construction with another substantive. 

* Ordo Q'pu Codex cap. vii. Gemara. Bartoloccii Bib. Rab¬ 
bin. v. iii. p. 369. A passage of a similar tendency is also quoted by 
Wagensail in his Sota, p. 434. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


581 


pear, then let him turn his face and exclaim, c The Lord 
said to Satan , The Lord rebuke thee , Satan? and the 
danger shall depart from him.” 

Would you then, perhaps the Unitarians will say, with 
that contempt which generally characterizes the conceit of 
superior wisdom, would you then revive the obsolete extra¬ 
vagance of Rabbinical reverie ? Certainly not. But my 
argument surely will not suffer by the proof, that the Jews 
themselves, who manifestly could not have been influenced 
by Christian expositions, have always understood the text 
of Ze<‘hariah precisely as I do, and precisely indeed as the 
generality of Christians have always done. To establish 
the fact is one thing : but to approve of every absurdity 
which a superstitious imagination may deduce from it, is 
clearly another. 

In addition also to what has been said, it may be remark¬ 
ed, that the expression with the demonstrative H 

prefixed, occurs but twice in the Old Testament, in Job and 
in Zechariah; and that in both cases the Being so denomi¬ 
nated appears in the presence of, and is addressed by, God. 
himself. Is it not therefore highly improbable, that the 
same expression, thus distinguished, should, in the first in¬ 
stance, signify the personification of an abstract idea, that 
of evil ; and in the second, a mere human being 7 

Were the foregoing observations insufficient to prove the 
ancient belief in a superior order of evil spirits, an addi¬ 
tional argument might be brought from Deuter. xxxii. 17, 
where it is said, “ They sacrified to devils, □ not to 
God.” For it seems indisputable, that the word 
whatsoever difference of opinion may be entertained re¬ 
specting its derivation, must mean detested objects of hea¬ 
then worship, which were supposed to posses a real ex¬ 
istence) because it is translated Aaifaovia, not only in the Sep- 
tuagint, but by the author of the apocryphal book Baruch^ 
<\ iv. 7, and by the Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. x. 20 ; and the 


582 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


spiritual nature also of the Aaigovia is strongly asserted both 
in the Apocrypha and in the New Testament. 

Apocryphal testimony indeed is inadmissible in settling 
a point of doctrine ; but it may at least be received in de¬ 
termining the currency of an opinion. It should be there¬ 
fore noticed, that in the Wisdom of Solomon the fall of 
man is directly imputed to the envy of the devil: “For 
God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an 
image of his own eternity ; nevertheless through envy of 
the devil , <pSc vw AtafoXx, came death into the world, and 
they who hold to his side , 01 sxsivx pspiSos ovtss, do find 
it. ” c. ii. 23, 24. Is not the personality of the Devil, 
Aia?oXos, here pointed out in terms, the meaning of which 
it is impossible to mistake ? 

Having thus considered the principle traces of the sub¬ 
ject before me discoverable in the Old Testament, I shall 
now turn to the New. 

The authors of this Version affirm, the word Satan , 
whatsoever might have been the vulgar opinion, certainly, 
in the contemplation of Christ and his Apostles, indicate not 
areal but, a fictitious being. 

It is natural however to ask, upon what proof do they 
ground their argument, that the private opinion of our 
Saviour was in direct opposition to his public testimony; 
that when he spoke of Satan he meant by that expression 
no more than a symbolical existence, the mere personifi¬ 
cation, of an abstract quality ? They will perhaps answer, 
upon the presumption that he could not, consistently with 
reason, have meant otherwise. But why should it be 
deemed irrational to conceive, that intellectual beings of a 
superior order may have transgressed the laws of their Crea¬ 
tor, as well as those of an inferior order ; that there should 
be bad angels as well as bad men ? And what is this rule 
of human reason, from which revelation itself must never 
be supposed to swerve ? If they will listen to a critic of 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


583 


character, whose occasional alterations from received opi¬ 
nion at least must recommend him to their esteem, he will 
tell them, that “what we call reason, and by which we 
would new model the Bible,” (he is speaking of theologi¬ 
cal conjecture in the emendation of the text,) “ is frequent¬ 
ly nothing more than some fashionable system of philoso¬ 
phy , which lasts only for a time, and appears so absurd to 
those who live in later ages, that they find it difficult to 
comprehend how rational beings can have adopted such ri¬ 
diculous, notions.”* And he instances the example of the 
Gnostics. In the days of Gnosticism indeed every thing 
was spiritualized, and credulity carried to an extreme one 
way ; but now, it seems, every thing is to be materialized, 
and in credulity pushed to an extreme the other. Truth, 
however, I am persuaded, may still be found in the mid¬ 
dle system ; in a system equally remote from the fantasti¬ 
cal reveries of the Gnostics, and from the negative hypo¬ 
theses of the Unitarians. 

But let us more attentively consider the proofs of this 
supposed Christian philosophy. We must understand then 
that a professed object of our Saviour’s mission was to abol¬ 
ish the superstitious doctrine, of evil spirits ; to eradicate 
from the popular mind the ideal empire of darkness. Con¬ 
ceiving this therefore to have been an object of his mission, 
how, we may ask, did he effect it ? Was it, as in the case 
of Pharisaical superstition, by attacking the offensive creed 
in bold and disdainful language, and in terms exposing it 
without reserve, to merited contempt and infamy ? Indis¬ 
putably not. But, on the other hand, by adopting it on 
every occasion as his own, by temporizing with his hear¬ 
ers, by fostering their prejudices even to satiety, and by 
ultimately leaving them to correct their own errors ! Sure¬ 
ly if such were our Saviour’s object, his mode of accom- 


* Michaels’s Introduction, vol. ii. part. i. p. 415. 


5S4 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


plishing that object was rather singular.* Nor should it be 
fogotten, that the Unitarians, on other occasions, withhold 
at pleasure their belief in every thing which is not express¬ 
ly and repeatedly declared ; yet on this occasion would 
they wish us to believe that which is not declared at all ; 
which is solely deducible from an assumed paramount rule 
of reason, and from principles of scriptural interpretation 
too refined for vulgar comprehension. 

If it were one avowed object of our Saviour’s mission 
to annihilate the received doctrine of an evil Being, wc 
might conjecture, that some very early indication of it 
would appear in the Evangelical history. But, on the 
contrary, we are ioformed, that at the very commencement 
of his ministry he was “ led up of the Spirit into the wil¬ 
derness to be tempted by the devil,” Matt. iv. 1, and this 
is stated with various particulars of the event, without the 
slightest collateral or ulterior explanation. The authors of 
the New Version, indeed say, “ This form of expression 
(viz. ‘Jesus was led up by the Spirit,) denotes that the 
historian is about to describe a visionary scene, and not a 
real event.” And so said Farmer before them. But what 
is the reply of another favourite writer of the same school ? 
“When this is the case,” observes Mr. John Jones, “it 
is always declared that the scene is visionary, and not 
real. * * * * * Do the Evangelists then say, that the 
temptations of Christ, or the scenes which he saw, were a 
vision? Not a word, nor the slightest intimation of the 
kind is given by them ; and there is as good reason for 
supposing that he was baptized, or announced by a voice 
from heaven as the Son of God, in a vision, as for think¬ 
ing he was temjjted in a vision,” p. 630. Again, With 
the New Testament in our hands, we feel ourselves sur¬ 
rounded with the mild and benignant splendour of truth 

* See Mr. John Jones’s “Illustrations of the four Gospels,” p. 172, 
173. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 5S5 

and reality ; but this critic (viz. Farmer) would envelope 
our hemisphere in gloom at the moment the Sun of right¬ 
eousness sheds his purest, serenest rays on our horizon ; 
and with preposterous officiousness would reflect on our 
path the livid light of a midnight taper, when the Son of 
God himself stands before us clothed with the luminary of 
day.” p. 632, It seems, then, that it must not be a vision- 
Still however, although (t we feel ourselves surrounded 
with the mild and benignant splendour of truth and real¬ 
ity ,” it may only be, according to the second hypothesis 
of our translators, “ a figurative description of the train of 
thoughts which passed through the mind of Jesus.” And 
this is the opinion of Mr. Cappe, and Mr. John Jones 
himself. I shall not however waste my time in attempt¬ 
ing to split the hair of reality between writers whose only 
difference of opinion seems to be, that, while one repre¬ 
sents our Saviour as foreseeing, in a vision at Nazareth , 
the future scene of his sufferings, and, “ in order to quali-, 
fy him for death, as dreaming that he should die,” the 
other represents him as foreseeing the same scene with his 
eyes open in the wilderness ; but shall pass on to other 
considerations, simply noticing “ the confirmation (as it 
is termed) of his interpretation,” given by Mr. John Jones, 
who, without any particular comment, refers for this pur¬ 
pose to a well known allegory of Xenophon, denominated 
“ the Choice of Hercules ;” and adds, that “ nothing in 
all antiquity can be found more similar to the temptation 
of our Lord, both in sentiment and language !” p. 633. 

To examine therefore with a little more accuracy this 
new idea, that the assertion of an affirmative is sometimes 
the most effectual mode of proving a negative, when our 
blessed Saviour, certainly not at the moment very anxious 
to avoid “alienating and inflaming his countrymen,”* thus 
addresses the Jews ; Ye are of your father the devil, and 


* Illustrations of the four Gospels, p. 171. 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


3S6 

the lusts of your father ye will do : he was a murderer 
from the beginning, and abode not in the truth/’ John viii. 
44, is it possible to conceive, that he was playing with their 
prejudices, and merely alluded to a 'personified quality ? 
When likewise, in his description of the day of judgment, 
he uses the terms “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil 
and his angels,” Matt. xxv. 41, can we, consistently with 
common sense, suppose that, by the words the devil and 
his angels , he meant and wished his hearers to understand 
him as meaning nothing more than metaphorical existence ? 
If it be nevertheless still insisted, that, when speaking to 
the people at large, he had a purpose to answer in humour¬ 
ing popular prejudice, by the adopting of popular language, 
it will scarcely, I presume, be argued, that he had any pur¬ 
pose to serve in adopting a similar language when address¬ 
ing his own disciples. And yet we find him frequent in 
the use of it. To them he says, even in explanation of a 
parable, “ the enemy that sowed the tares is the devilf 
Matt. xiii. 39 : a most singular assertion indeed by way 
of proving the non-existence of such a being. When also 
they tell him, that “even the devils, Aai^ovia, are subject to 
him,” Luke x. 17, instead of correcting their error, if 
error he conceived it to be, he replies, “I beheld Satan like 
lightning fall from heaven.” In another place, addressing 
himself to Peter, he exclaims, Simon, Simon, behold, 
Satan hath desired to have you,” Luke xxii. 31. And 
even after his resurrection, when he appeared in a vision 
to St. Paul, he calls him “ to turn men from darkness to 
light, and from the power of Satan unto God,” Acts 
xxvi. 18. 

Nor are the Apostles, in their Epistles both to Jews and 
Gentiles, more scrupulous in the free use of language, 
which, if they had not learned, they at least had heard, 
from their divine Master.* To reconcile their phraseolo- 

* See John xiii 2; Acts xiii. 10; Rom. xvi. 20; 1 Cor. v. 5, vii. 5; 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF TIIE N. T. 


5S7 


gy to the Unitarian hypothesis is a task which no effort and 
straining will ever satisfactorily accomplish. One would 
conceive that, when St. Paul speaks of “ delivering such a 
one to Satan,” 1 Cor. v. 15, and of “ Satan’s transforming 
himself into an angel of light,” 2 Cor. xi. 14, he meant 
the same person. But our new interpreters tell us, that in 
the first instance Satan is to be considered as a sort of 
ideal sovereign over an ideal kingdom of darkness : in the 
latter, as a false Apostle, the leading advesary of St. Paul. 

1 shall quote the last passage. Speaking of false teachers, 
St. Paul observes, that “ they transform themselves into 
the Apostles of Christ. And no wonder : for Satan also 
transformeth himself also into an angel of light. It. is there 
fore no great thing if his ministers also transform themsel¬ 
ves as ministers of righteousness.” What can possibly be 
more simple in its import ? This however is to be thus per¬ 
plexed ; As the leading adversary of St. Paul, denominat¬ 
ed Satan, transforms himself into an angel of light; that 
is, arrogates to himself the character of a messenger from 
God so also the ministers of this adversary transform 
themselves into the ministers of righteousness, that is, 
“pretend to be the Apostles of the Messiah .” But 
where do we find any mention of this leading adversary , 
who arrogated to himself the character of an angel, (for 
the words angel of light cannot, I maintain, be lowered 
into the direct sense of a mere messenger from God, such 
as were all the prophets,) and who, in pursuance of his 
divine mission, had his appropriate ministers , Siuxovoi ? 
Did St. Paul ever term his fellow labourers, in the Gospel 
his ministers? The ministers of Satan contrasted with the 
ministers of Christ is sufficiently intelligible. But where 
is the contrast in opposing the ministers of a false apostle 

2 Cor. ii. 11,1 xi. 14, xii. 7; Eplies. iv. 27, vi. 11; 1 Thess. ii. 18; :: 
Thess. ii. 9; 1 Tim. i. 20; iii. 6, 7; v. 15; 2Tim. ii. 26; Heb. ii. 14; 
James, viii. 7; 1 Pet. v. 8; 2 Pet. ii. 4. Jude 6. 


5cS8 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


to the ministers of Christ, unless we can also suppose a con¬ 
trast in the principles ; viz. between the false apostle him¬ 
self and our Saviour ? Besides, the word Satan is Hebrew, 
not Greek ; and as being therefore in all probability only 
known to the Corinthians in a peculiar sense, was scarcely 
used by St. Paul to express the general idea of an adver¬ 
sary. 

But a still more singular exposition occurs in a comment, 
which they adopt from another writer, upon a passage of 
St. Jude. In order to point out the dreadful judgments of 
God against the disobedient, the Apostle instances the pun¬ 
ishment of the fallen angels, the destruction of the world 
by water in the days of Noah, and the overthrow of So¬ 
dom and Gomorrah by fire from heaven. The case of the 
fallen angels he thus describes: “The angels who kept not 
their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath re¬ 
served in eternal chains to the judgment of the great day, 1 ” 
ver. 4. In explanation of this the following paraphrase is 
given : “ The messengers who watched not duly over their 
own principality , but deserted their proper habitation, he 
kept with perpetual chains under darkness (punished them 
with judicial blindness of mind) unto the judgment of a 
great day, i. e. ivhen they ivere destroyed by a plague. 
Alluding to the falsehood and punishment of the spies, 
Numb. xiv. 36, 37 !” Were we however disposed to try 
the experiment, of converting the word angel into mes¬ 
sengers, and to consider these as the spies sent out by 
Moses and the Israelites to investigate the land of Canaan, 
what possible sense can be made of the crime imputed to 
them; viz . 1 ‘ that they watched not duly over their own 
principality ?” Nor can those with any propriety be said to 
have “deserted their proper habitation,” avoXinovras to 
Icoitwv oixTjT'i'jpiov, who had no proper habitation to desert. Be¬ 
sides, could we suppose that the phrase, “ judgment of 
the great dayf is synonymous with that of destruction 
by the plague, still would it require the talent of CEdipus 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


589 


himself in the solution of metaphorical aenigma to demon¬ 
strate how the words, he kept in eternal chains under 
darkness , ” Ssiffioig ai<5iois wo goyov rs-rriprixsv, can possibly mean> 
he punished ivith judicial blindness of mind ; particular¬ 
ly as St. Peter, who adduces the same example, adds the 
participle ragTagutfug, rfsigoug £o<px t agraputfag ixapeSuxSv, “ hav¬ 
ing cast them down to hell , he delivered them into chains 
of darkness,” 2 Pet. ii. 4. And with what propriety can 
judicial blindness of mind, the act, I presume, of forming 
an erroneous judgment of the promised land, which con¬ 
stituted the crime of the spies, be termed their punish¬ 
ment ? 

On the whole then ; if the existence of a spiritual ene¬ 
my to man, under the denomination of Satan, is discove¬ 
rable in the Scriptures of the Old Testament; if this were 
confessedly the popular creed at the period of the promul¬ 
gation of Christianity ; if our Saviour himself adopted it 
as his own creed without any ulterior explanation, not only 
when publicly addressing the people, but also when pri¬ 
vately conversing with his own disciples; and if the Apos¬ 
tles likewise expressed themselves in similar language, it 
seems reasonable to conclude, that Satan is described as a 
real, and not as a fictitious being. That translation there¬ 
fore of the word 2arav cannot be correct, which, by ren¬ 
dering it adversary, deprives it of the peculiar sense which 
was usually affixed to it. It admits indeed in Hebrew as 
well the general sense of adversary or accuser, as the par¬ 
ticular sense of a fallen angel. JBut it should be recol¬ 
lected, that the question turns upon its meaning in the 
Greek, and not in the Hebrew Scriptures. Had the Apos¬ 
tles intended to express the general idea of an adversary, 
they would doubtless have used comdixo?, or some other 
equivalent Greek expression ; because otherwise they would 
have been unintelligible to those, for whose instruction 
they wrote. Satan, as a term appropriate to an evil Being 
of a superior nature, could only be understood we may pre- 

c c 3 


590 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


sume, by the Greeks as it still is by us in English : but hael 
St. Luke, for example, instead of ws yap Crfaysig fisra <rx avn- 
<5ixss rfs St r’ a^ov-ra, c. xii. 58, written ws yag virays is [ssla <rs 
2arava da sir' apxovla, that is, instead of, “ when thou goest 
with thine adversary to the magistrate,” had he written, 
“ when thou goest with thy Satan to the magistrate,” 
would not both Greek and English have appeared a little 
nonsensical ? The appropriate name of a person or thing, 
or of a class of persons or things, before unknown, may be 
naturally borrowed from another language in which it is 
familiarly used ; but to suppose that the inspired writers of 
the New Testament, when addressing those who were ig¬ 
norant of Hebrew, unnecessarily adopted from that tongue 
words expressive only of general ideas, would be to con¬ 
vert them into a sort of conceited triflers, whose object was 
rather to puzzle than to instruct. That the Greek language 
contained no term peculiarly appropriate to the name of a 
being, respecting whose existence the Greeks had no know¬ 
ledge, must be evident. Hence therefore appears the rea¬ 
son why the Apostles on such occasions used an Hebrew 
expression. But even this, it may be said, would not have 
been intelligible, without a previous explanation. Most 
certainly it would not ; and that very circumstance tends 
to prove the specific sense in which it was meant to be un¬ 
derstood. For if the Apostles, as well as the Jews in ge¬ 
neral, believed in the real existence of Satan , it is obvious 
that they would inculcate the same opinion on their hea¬ 
then converts, and would consequently explain to them the 
meaning of that term; but if they did not believe in it, no 
possible necessity could arise for their explaining it, at all. 
Would they not rather have abstained from every allusion 
to it, than have run the risk of appearing to countenance a 
creed which they disclaimed ; and this solely for the pue¬ 
rile pleasure of sporting with a tortured metaphor? That 
they proceeded still further, and previously explained the 
general meaning of a certain Hebrew expression, without 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


591 


any particular object of the kind alluded to in view, is 
surely a position which should shock even the conjectural 
credulity of the new school. 


CHAP. VI. 

Translation of the word AyJeXos, Heb. i. Disputed, 
books. Griesbach. Conclusion. 

Although the Translators take every possible opportu¬ 
nity to represent a belief in the existence of fallen angels 
as irrational, and therefore unscriptural, they do not alto¬ 
gether deny the existence of angels themselves. This they 
seem to admit ; yet, as the word ayfsX os means both a 
messenger and an angel , they sometimes attempt, for cer¬ 
tain theological purposes, to give it the former in prefer¬ 
ence to the latter signification, in direct opposition to the 
context. When St. Stephen states the law to have been 
received u by the ministry of angels ,” we are informed 
in a note, that thunder, lightning and tempest, may be 
called angels, like the plague of Egppt, Psalm Ixxviii. 
49 ; and the burning wind, Isaiah xxxvii. 36 or that 

* But the illustrations here adduced are defective in proof. The 
evil angels or angels inflicting evils, mentioned Psalm Ixxviii. 49. 
ought rather perhaps to be taken literally, in allusion to Exodus xii. 
23, where the rrntyon the destroyer (^ov oXoSpsuovra in the Septua- 
gint) is introduced as only permitted to strike the first-born of the 
Egyptians; and this sense, it should be remarked, is evidently 
given to the phrase in the Greek Version of Symmachus, who ren¬ 
ders it ayfsXuv xctxsvTwv, angels afflicting them loith evils. See also 2 
Sam. xxiv. 17, in which David is stated to have seen the angel who 
smote the people with pestilence. With respect to the passage in 
Isaiah, that which is termed a burning ivind is expressly stated in the 
text to have been the angel of the Lord, who is represented as having- 
gone out (XT) and smitten in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred 
fourscore and five thousand. Why must we attribute to natural 



592 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


these angels may only mean “ Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and 
a succession of authorized prophets and messengers of 
God.” But a more striking instance of their perverting 
the obvious import of this word occurs in several passages 
of the first chapter of the Hebrews, in which they uni¬ 
formly translate it messenger ; and it is this translation 
which I propose particularly to consider. 

Their object is sufficiently evident. Throughout the 
whole of the chapter in question the superiority of Christ 
to the angels is too distinctly asserted to be explained 
away. In imitation therefore of Wakefield, they endea¬ 
vour to get rid of the difficulty at once (a difficulty which 
might otherwise prove a stumbling-block to their creed) 
by rendering, ayfsXoi messengers, and by giving us at the 
same time to understand, that the messengers alluded to 
are the prophets of the Old Testament. The authority of 
Wakefield I admit to be respectable ; a writer certainly of 
classical taste, and of elegant attainments, but by no means 
ranking high on the list of biblical critics : whose transla¬ 
tion of the New testament is, like theirs, deeply tinctured 
by his creed, and whose professed attachment to truth and 
candour was toe often biassed by prejudice, and disgraced 
by sarcasm. Those however who boast the habit, and ex¬ 
perience the pride, of dissent, will not, I presume, expect 
others to adopt, without examination, the opinion of any 
man whatsoever; particularly an opinion, the credit of 
which, unsupported both by reasoning and precedent, sole¬ 
ly rests upon the critical acumen of Wakefield. 

In the two first chapters of this Epistle the word aylsXoi 
occurs not less than nine times ; in the first six of which 
it is translated messengers, but in the remaining three, 
angels. This incorrectness of style, however it is obser- 

causes alone what is plainly described in Scripture as effected by the 
agency of supernatural beings ? It cannot be because we disbelieve 
the existence of such beings. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


593 


ved, to which the ambiguity of the word gives rise, is not 
uncommon in the sacred writers, but no parallel case spe¬ 
cifically in point, or indeed any at all, is alleged in proof 
of the assertion. Surely this, as Mr. Nares justly remarks, 
“is an extraordinary mode of reconciling matters ; for it 
is not the Apostle, but the Editors themselves, who give 
these different senses to the term angel , and then censure 
the sacred writers for an incorrectness of style.”* 

I shall not, I trust, be accused of mistaking their argu¬ 
ment, if I reduce it to this simple assertion ; that, as the 
word angel is sometimes used in the Old Testament to de¬ 
note a prophet , so also is the same signification to be an¬ 
nexed to it in the particular passage under consideration. 

The term indeed is doubtless applied to the prophets in 
some, but not in many passages of the Old Testament; 
yet ought we to remark, that it is never so applied with¬ 
out a pronoun, or a genitive case connected with it, indi¬ 
cative of him whose messengers they were. Often howr 
ever it stands alone, and is then only used to designate 
those superior beings, of whom it is the sole characteristi- 
cal appellation, to whom it is exclusively a name descrip¬ 
tive, specific, and appropriate. Thus, to quote one out of 
many instances, it is said, 1 Kings xix. 5, that, when Eli¬ 
jah, flying from the vengeance of Jezebel, and exhausted 
with fatigue, lay under a juniper tree, an angel 
touched him, and said, arise and eat. Here we perceive 
the term occurring alone, without even the prefix (or defi¬ 
nite article) H and distinctly pointing out a being, well 
known under that particular denomination. But the con¬ 
struction is wholly dissimilar when it is applied to the 
prophets : for then we read, “ The Lord sent to them by 
his messengers, * * * but they mocked the messengers 
of (rod , 2 Chrofi. xxxvi. 15, 16 ; The Lord, who per¬ 
formed! tne counsel of his messengers, Isaiah xliv. 26 ; 

* Remarks, p. 119. 


294 


CRITICAL REMARKS ON THE 


Then spake Haggai the Lord's messenger, Hag. i. 13 ; He 
is the messenger of the Lord of LIosts> Malachi ii. 7 ; 
And I will send my messenger, Malachi iii. 1 and 
these are the only texts in which it is to be found in the 
latter signification. The reason of the difference I appre¬ 
hend to be obvious, In the first case, it is suffieiently decla¬ 
rative of its own meaning ; hut in the last, not being so 
declarative, it requires some adjunct to determine the pre¬ 
cise sense of its synonymous application. Had Haggai, 
for instance, described himself as a messenger, instead of 
the Lord’s messenger* would not the phraseology have 
been incomplete, if not unintelligible ? 

In opposition however to every legitimate principle of 
construction, these Translators contend with Wakefield, 
that when the Son is described, Heb. i. 4, as “ being made 
so much better than the angels , xgstrluv twv ayfsAwv, as he 
hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than 
they,” the expression, twv ayfsXuv signifies not the angels , 
but ‘‘ the prophets , who are mentioned in the first verse. ” 
Yet that aylsXos generally means angel> in the usual accep¬ 
tation of the term, they seem themselves to admit, because 
they thus translate it sixty-three out of seventy-four 
times,* in which it occurs unconnected with every other 
word capable of determining its precise sense. And of 

I have observed it in the following texts: Matt. iv. 11, xiii. 39, 
49, xxvi. 53; Mark i. 13; Luke xvi. 22; John v. 4, xii. 29; Actsvi. 
15, vii. 35, 38, xii. 8, 9, 10, xxiii. 8, Rom. viii. 38; 1 Cor. iv. 9, xi. 
10, xiii. 1; Gal. iii. 19; Col. ii. 18; 1 Tim. iii. 16; Heb. i. 4,5,6, 7, 
13, ii. 2, 5, 7, 9, 16, xii. 22, xiii. 2; 1 Pet i. 12, iii. 22; 2 Pet. ii. 4, 
11 ; Rev. i. 20, vii. 1,2, 11, viii. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, ix. 1, 11, x. 1,5,7, 
8, xi. 15, xiv. 6, 8, 9, 10, 15, 17, 18, 19, xv. 1, 6, 7, 8, xvi. 1, 3, 5, 
xviii. 1, xix. 17, xxi. 9, 12. 

It is translated messenger , 1 Cor. xi. 10; Gal. iii. 19; 1 Tim. iii. 
16; Heb. i. 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, ii. 2, xiii. 2; 1 Pet. iii. 22: and we are 
told that in Gal. iii. 19, the messengers mean officers , that is, Priests 
and Levites; in 1 Tim. iii. 16, the Apostles; and in Heb. i. 4, 5, 6,7, 
13, ii. 2, the Prophets of the Old Testament. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


595 


the eleven instances, in which they render it messenger, 
six will be found in the very passages under consideration. 
This circumstance alone surely proves on which side the 
general presumption of its import lies. 

But I maintain that the word ayjsAoi must here necessa¬ 
rily mean angels, a class of beings to whom it is pecu¬ 
liarly appropriated, because, although the prophets may 
be described, as I have already pointed out, under the title 
of the messengers of God,” they cannot be correctly term¬ 
ed “ the messengers.” We readily comprehend how they 
are said to be the messengers of God, in common with 
others ; but we do not well understand how they can be 
denominated the ??iessengers emphatically and exclusively. 
I may likewise remark, that they are called the servants, 
as well as the messengers, of God, and even that more 
frequently.* But should we not condemn the phraseology 
as strangely incorrect, which, when it is meant to assert 
the superiority of Christ over the prophets, should simply 
represent him as superior to the servants ? 

To take off, however, as much as possible from the man¬ 
ifest incongruity of the expression, and to introduce a sort 
of reference to the prophets incidentally mentioned in the 
first verse, as the agents by whom God had formerly re¬ 
vealed his will to mankind, the Translators adopt the Ver¬ 
sion of Wakefield, and render rwv ayXsluv, which does not 
occur till the fourth verse, “ those messengers. ” It may 
appear too harsh to denominate this a perversion of the 
sacred text ; but it must be admitted to be an unauthorized 
addition of a not insignificant pronoun,! for the express 

* The phrases my, his, or tliy servants the prophets, occur no less 
(han sixteen times in the Old, and twice in the New Testament; 2 
Kings ix. 7, xvii. 13, 23, xxi. 10, xxiv. 2; Ezra ix. 11; Jerem. vii, 
25, xxv. 4, xxvi. 5, xxix. 19, xxxv. 15; Ezek. xxxviii. 17; Dan. ix. 
G, 10; Amos iii. 7; Zech. i. 6; Revelations x. 7, xi. 18. 

f The Article 0 in Greek is indeed sometimes used emphatically, as 
h <rpo©i5Ti)5 si (tv, John i. 21; but so also is the English Article the a* 


596 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


purpose of supporting a favourite exposition. Yet, if we 
even conceded to them all the advantage to he derived from 
such a translation, (a concession which, as in a similar case, 
they would not be disposed to grant ; so in this, I presume, 
they will not expect to receive, (still would it be impossi¬ 
ble for them to establish the propriety of a phrase, which, 
in spite of all their efforts, could not but remain a palpa¬ 
ble solecism. 

Nor are we solely left to conjecture respecting the true 
import of the word aylsXoi ; for the context distinctly fur¬ 
nishes us with a clue to its meaning. We subsequently 
read, “Of his angels he saith, Who maketh his angels 
spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire,” ver. 7 : and 
again, “ Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to 
minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ?” ver. 
14, llgog Tis? ayfsXxs Xsfsi, 'O tfoiwv tss ayfeXsss aurs rfvsujxara, 
xai Xsirxgyovs avrov irvgog cphoya' * * * * Oujp ita vrsg si<ft 
Xsi-xpyixu •munara, sig diaxoviav atfossXXo^sva, <5ia fAsXXovras 
xX^ovoixsiv tfwTTjpiav; The translation given in the New Ver¬ 
sion runs thus : “ Of these messengers the Scripture saith, 
Who maketh the winds his messengers, and flames of 
lightning his ministers. * * * Are they not all servants, 
sent forth to serve the future heirs of salvation ?” I shall 
consider these passages separately. 

Of the first it seems difficult to speak without an unusual 
expression of surprise. Admitting for a moment that ay- 
7sXss means messengers, and irvsv^ara' winds, instead of 
« Who maketh his messengers the winds , and his minis¬ 
ters flames of lightning can we possibly render the 
words, “ Who maketh the winds his messe?igers and 

“ Art thou the prophet?” which is the reading of the New Version. 
Must it not therefore be as incorrect to confuse the English Article 
the with the pronoun this or that , as it would be to confuse the Greek 
Article o with the pronoun £tos or sxsivos ? Of this the new Trans¬ 
lators themselves seemed aware when they rendered 0 ftpocprirris not 
that, but the prophet. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


597 


flames of lightning his ministers,” by a transposition, 
the principle of which is utterly inconceivable ? And yet 
such is the rendering of the New Version. The Transla¬ 
tors surely will never argue, that the transposition produ¬ 
ces not the slightest difference in the sense; that it is, for 
example, precisely the same thing to say, “Inhumanity 
makes a monster a man,” as it is to say, “Inhumanity 
makes a man a monster.” Nor, although they may be 
themselves persuaded, than an unprejudiced investigation 
of truth must make a Trinitarian an Unitarian, will 
they therefore, I presume, admit, that an unprejudiced in¬ 
vestigation of truth must make an Unitarian a Trinita¬ 
rian. And how came they on this occasion so rashly to 
turn their backs upon their favourite Wakefield ? How too 
could they overlook the severe censure of “ that eminent 
scholar” upon the very translation of the passage which 
they choose to adopt ? “ Some,” he remarks, “reverse the 
translation here given, and render, who maketh winds his 
messengers , and flaming fire his ministers : which 
makes the passage just nothing at all to the writer’s pur¬ 
pose ; and, not to speak harshly of these Translators, 

-ignoratse premit artis crimine turpi.”* 

But leaving them to exculpate themselves as they can 
from the disgraceful charge of ignorance, pronounced by 
a celebrated leader of their own party, and giving them, 
at the same time, the full advantage of his superior infor¬ 
mation, I still contend, that, arrange the passage as you 
please, the signification of ayfsXos must be angel, and not 
prophet. For in what possible sense can the prophets be 
characteristically described as winds and as flames of 
lightning ? Yet this may be consistently stated of the an¬ 
gels, who may be said to resemble the wind in activity, 
and the lightning in velocity. And if too, on the other 
hand, we translate crvsujxara (perhaps more correctly) spirits, 

* Translation of the New Testament, vol. iii. p. 209. 


D D 



59S 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


and rfugos (pXoya a flaming fire , not a shadow of doubt will 
remain upon the subject. Indeed, that the authors of the 
Septuagint so understood the original word JIllTH* is evi¬ 
dent from their translating it here irvsu/xowa, after having in 
the last clause of the preceding verse rendered it avsp,«v, 
the more appropriate Greek term for winds . * 

With respect to the latter part of the description, in 
which the ay/eXoi are said to be ministering spirits, Xsc- 

* In this sense also the passage alluded to in the Psalms was always 
taken by the most ancient Jewish writers. Schoettgen observes, 
“ Plerique Judceorum verba hrec de angelis eodem modo explicant. 
quorum omnia loca proferre nimis prolixum foret.” Horse Heb. et 
Talm. in loc. In the Pirke R. Eliezer, or Chapters of R. Eliezer, 
chap, iv, where an allusion is made to the creation of angels, this 
verse of the 104th Psalm is particularly referred to: RrDRy D'JxSon 

m bw ptsyi v:sh DTHtyo mnn putya ran:} pnbtyj jntyj w ma 

ntyj? nOSOty &c. “ The augels who are created on the second day, 
when they are sent by his word, become spirits; and when they min¬ 
ister before him, become fiery, (tSW bjy, of fire) as it is written, He 
made his angels spirits, and his ministers a flaming fire.” Four clas¬ 
ses of ministering angels ,fntyn "DnSo are then described as praising 
him, who alone is holy and blessed, and surrounding the throne of 
his glory. 

Some critics have conceived, that the tfvsup,ra mnn spirits, men¬ 
tioned in the first part of the verse in question, mean the Cherubim , 
and the fiery ministers in the second part th eSeraphim. The very name 
seraph sufficiently elucidates the latter conjecture. And the former 
perhaps may be corroborated by the following remark of Drusius : 
“ Ignorari videor, cur nomen, masculinum Cherubim 70 viri, Aq. et 
allii interpretes Grteci genere noutro tkXscsSi^ transtulissent. * * * 
Ego arbitror =ra XepsSip, compendio dici pro eo, quod est to . wevparu 
XspaSip-, i. e. spiritus, qui Cherubim nuncuparUur.” Observ. Sac. 
lib. x. c. 21. 

It should likewise be particularly observed, that the word irvlvpa. 
occurs in other passages of the New Testament more than three hun¬ 
dred, and fifty times; and yet is capable only in one instance, viz. John 
iii. 8, (an instance however disputed by Wakefield himself,) of being 
translated wind. The term generally used for wind is, as I have re¬ 
marked above, avS(/,os. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


599 


rxgfixa. msufiala, one might have conceived this to be a dis¬ 
criminating characteristic of the angelical nature impossi¬ 
ble to be mistaken. But the Translators of the New Ver¬ 
sion, it seems, think differently, and render the word ser¬ 
vants. Here however they do not, as in other instances, 
rest upon the prop either of the Primate’s or of Wakefield’s 
Version, but boldly venture at a little criticism of their 
own. They tell us in a note, that the phrase is a Hebra¬ 
ism ; a convenient sort of term equally calculated for the 
display of knowledge, and the concealment of ignorance. 
They say, “ The word spirit is a Hebraism to express a 
person’s self, v. g. 1 Cor. ii. 11 ; the spirit of a man is a 
man, is a man himself; the spirit of God is God himself, 
2 Tim. iv. 22. The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit, 
i. e. vvith thee.” But how do they prove the supposed 
Hebraism ? Instead of pointing out those passages where 
the corresponding term nil is thus used in the Old Testa¬ 
ment, they merely produce two texts from the New, in 
which they state tfvsufjux itself to bear the alleged significa¬ 
tion. But if they could demonstrate so peculiar an accep¬ 
tation of the word in Greek, this would not constitute it 
an Hebraism, I have examined Vorstius, Olearius, and 
other champions of Hebraisms, to ascertain, if possible, 
the grounds of their assertion, but in vain. 

It seems not however very material, whether the phrase 
be an Hebraism, or not, if we can but settle its genuine 
import. If I understand them correctly, they contend 
that the term -zrvsufjuxra, in the passages referred to, is put, 
not for the spirit alone, but by synecdoche for the whole 
man. This, I presume, is all they mean, when they say, 

“ that the spirit of a man is a man , is a man himself 
for I cannot conceive them to insinuate here the existence 
of a reciprocal, abhorrent from oriental usage, and inap¬ 
plicable to the object in view. Taking it then as an in¬ 
stance of synecdoche, and that the spirit of a man , in the 


600 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


first passage quoted, means only the man , we must "un-* 
derstand the verse thus : “What man knoweth the things 
of a man, but the man which is in him 7” Without being 
fastidious however upon the singularity of such a mode of 
expression, I presume that the words <ro sv ccurw, which is 
in him , plainly indicate, that tfvsujaa, with which they are 
connected, is taken in the sense of spirit, its usual accep¬ 
tation. Nor, in the second passage quoted, is there the 
slightest ground for supposing that it bears a different 
meaning. The phrase, “ with thy spirit,” cannot, I ap¬ 
prehend, be considered as synonymous with “with thee,’ 7 
because it lias an appropriate application to the context, 
which the other phrase has not ; for the grace of Christ is 
only communicable to the spirit or soul of man. The 
pronoun thee, therefore, which implies the whole indivi¬ 
dual, cannot be correctly substituted for thy spirit, which 
implies only a peculiar part of that individual. To be 
sensible of this, we need only turn to another epistle of 
the same Apostle, where we shall find a distinction of the 
kind indisputable. “I know,” he elsewhere remarks, 
w that in me, that is, in my flesh, sv <nj dapxt ^ou , dwelleth 
no good,” Romans vii. 18. It is impossible, I conceive, 
to doubt of his intending here to qualify the general ex¬ 
pression, in me, by the particular limitation which instant¬ 
ly follows ; “ that is, in my flesh.” Ought we not then 
to understand the word -rvsu^a in an equally restricted sense, 
when under a similar construction? 

But what, to sift the question a little more accurately, 
is really meant by this proposed instance of synecdoche ? 
Are we, when it is recorded, that “Christ was led up by 
the Spirit ,” Matt. iv. 1 , to suppose that Christ was led up 
by himself; or, when it is said, that “God is a spirit,” 
John iv. 24, to understand the text as implying, that God 
is himself ? It may perhaps be replied, that the cases are 
widely different, because the term spirit in 1 Cor. ii. 11, 
and 2 Tim. iv. 22, is connected with the genitive case of 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 601 

a noun, or pronoun, denoting a person, to which person 
alone it relates ; but it is not sa in these texts. I admit 
the justice of the remark ; but still 1 ask, How then, upon 
this very principle, can the supposed synecdoche be appli¬ 
cable to Heb. i. 14, the particular text in view? Instead of 
being here joined to a genitive case expressive of a person, 
it is solely connected with an adjective, declarative of no¬ 
thing but a mere quality. Had ’Xeimpyixoc ^vivixara been Xst- 
Tspywv irvsujxara, it might have been possible to have dreamt 
of a synecdoche ; but one would have imagined, that, as 
the words stand, the very dream of so inapplicable a trope 
must have been precluded. 

But whatsoever meaning we may affix to the words Xei- 
‘Tagyixa. -osupuxTa, it is plain, from the tense of the verb in 
the same sentence, that they were not meant to be applica¬ 
ble to the ancient prophets. Had the writer intended 
these words so to be, instead of “ *flre they not,” he would 
doubtless have said, “ Were they not all ministering spi¬ 
rits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of 
salvation ?” and that for this obvious reason ; because the 
prophets alluded to were dead some ages before the author 
of the Epistle was born. If however, on the other hand, 
we apply the words in question to the angels, every thing 
then becomes instantly clear and consistent. Perhaps also 
it may not be unimportant to add, as the writer appears, 
from internal evidence, to have been himself of the Heb¬ 
rew nation, and as those whom he addressed indisputably 
were, that in the Talmud, and other Rabbinical composi¬ 
tions, the epithet ministering perpetually recurs in con¬ 
nexion with the term angels, as one descriptive of their pe¬ 
culiar office. It is unnecessary to quote instances of a phra¬ 
seology, which he who runs may read ; “Nihil in scriptis 
Rabbinicis frequentius est hac locutione, quod angeli di- 
• cunturrnt^il angeli minis ter iales, adeo, ut non 

opus sit loca quaedam aclscribere. 

* Schoettgen Horee Heb. in Joe. 


603 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 


I have omitted, as superfluous, to notice an argument 
on this topic deducible from the contrast drawn between 
the Son and the ay/sXoi ; but I cannot help alluding to one 
passage, from the singularity of the translation : “ To 
which of those messengers,” it is said, “spake God at any 
time, Thou art my Son, this day I have adopted thee ?” 
This is an extract from the second Psalm, which neverthe¬ 
less they elsewhere translate, “ Thou art my Son, this day 
I have begotten thee.” Acts xiii. S3. Why this change 
in the translation ? And what authority have they for ren¬ 
dering “iS* in the Hebrew, and y?waw in the Greek, to 
adopt ? I may perhaps be told, that there is a metaphori¬ 
cal as well as natural filiation, and that the Psalm referred 
to evinces a metaphorical filiation to have been intended, 
because in its primary sense it must be considered as ap¬ 
plicable to David , and to Christ only in its secondary 
sense. But this expedient will by no means answer the 
end proposed, because by the adoption of it we represent 
the writer of the Epistle as advancing an argument which 
carries with it its own refutation. For when, from a con¬ 
fident presumption that the question is unanswerable, he 
asks, “ To which of those messengers, i. e. prophets, spake 
God at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begot¬ 
ten thee ?” may we not instantly reply, The prophet 
David ? 

It would be foreign to my purpose, if not unimportant 
to the particular point at issue, were I to enter into the 
long agitated controversy respecting the author of this 
Epistle. It seems admitted on all sides, that it was com¬ 
posed at the apostolical period, and may therefore, I pre¬ 
sume, be taken as evidence, upon general topics at least 
of the sentiments then entertained by orthodox Christians. 
The Translators themselves, in c. ii. 8, give what they 
deem “ a presumptive proof, that it was either written by 
St. Paul, or by some person, perhaps Barnahas, or Luke, 
who was an associate with him, and familiarly acquainted 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. 


603 


with the Apostle’s style of thinking and reasoning al¬ 
though they subsequently represent this as very uncertain. 
Lardner, after a full discussion of the subject, concludes in 
favour of the probability, that St. Paul was the author of 
it ; and Sykes strenuously contends for the same position. 
I omit the mention of other critics, from a persuasion, that 
the opinion of all, when added to the weight of that ad¬ 
vanced by Lardner and by Sykes, can only prove, in the 
judgment of Unitarians, light as atoms of dust on the pre¬ 
ponderating balance. Although, therefore, we cannot 
positively, we may at least, I trust, presumptively, ascribe 
it to St. Paul. 

Having alluded to the uncertainty which has been sup¬ 
posed to exist respecting the author of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, I shall slightly notice some little inconsistency 
to be found in the account given of the other books of the 
New Testament, which have not been at all times, and in 
all countries, acknowledged as works indisputably of apos¬ 
tolical composition. These are, the Epistle of St. James, 
the second of St. Peter, the second and third of St. John, 
the Epistle of Jude, and the Revelation ; which are repre¬ 
sented as books, whose genuineness was disputed by the 
early Christian writers.” And yet we are afterwards in¬ 
formed, that the Epistle of St. James “is not unworthy of 
the Apostle, to whom it is generally ascribed that the 
second and third Epistles of St. John so much resemble 
the first in subject and language, as not to leave “a doubt 
of their having the same author;” and that the Revelation 
cannot be read by any intelligent or candid person, “with¬ 
out his being convinced, that, considering the age in which 
it appeared, none but a person divinely inspired, could 
have written it.” Nothing therefore remains absolutely 
to be discarded, except the second of St. Peter, and the 
unfortunate Epistle of St. Jude, neither of which are ad¬ 
missible under the friendly shelter of the Unitarian wing. 
By these reflections, however, I am far from meaning to 


<i04 


CRITICAL REMARKS ON THE 


censure the Translators of iheir laudable attempt at* even 
partially rescuing from suspicion the controverted books ; 
the sole object which I have in view being simply to note, 
with what facility and prompt decision they here, as else¬ 
where, repudiate or verify, subvert or reestablish, the ge¬ 
nerally received canon of Scripture at pleasure. 

Before I conclude my remarks upon this production, I 
shall slight^ advert to a circumstance incidentally alluded 
to in another place, viz. that it is not what it professes to 
be, a translation scrupulously adhering to the text of Gries- 
bach, “the most correct which has hitherto been publish¬ 
ed but one, in some instances, made from a text which 

* Why is so marked an exception made of St. Peter’s second Epis¬ 
tle, and the Epistle of St. Jude ? Lardner, after a detailed examina¬ 
tion of the arguments alleged against their authenticity, concludes 
strongly in favour of it. Of St. Peter’s two Epistles he says, “ If 
we consult them, and endeavour to form a judgment by internal evi¬ 
dence, I suppose it will appear very probable, that both are of the 
same author. And it may seem somewhat strange, that any of the 
ancients hesitated about it, who had the two Epistles before them. * 
* * I conclude therefore, that the two Epistles generally ascribed to 
the Apostle Peter are indeed his. * * * * Certainly these Epistles, 
and the discourses of Peter recorded in the Acts, together with the 
effects of them, are monuments of a divine inspiration .” History of 
the Apostles and Evangelists, chap.19. Of the Epistle of St. Jude he 
says, “ I have been thus prolix in rehearsing the passages of Clement; 
for they appear to me to be a sufficient proof of the antiquity and ge¬ 
nuineness of this Epistle; or that it was writ by Jude, one of Christ's 
twelve Apostles.” Ibid. chap. 20. Such was the opinion of Lardner. 
The Translators however, although in points of this nature they seem 
principally to build their faith upon his critical deductions, choose to 
think differently. With respect indeed to the first and third chapters 
of St. Peter’s disputed Epistle, they express themselves rather doubt¬ 
fully ; but the second chapter they condemn without reserve, printing 
it in italics. And yet Lardner, as we have seen, maintained the di¬ 
vine authority of the whole, and Michaelis states wdiat he terms “ po¬ 
sitive grounds for believing it genuine.” Introd. vol. iv. p. 350, &c. 

+ Introd. p. 8. 


UNITARIAN VERSION OP THE N. T. 


605 


exists no where but in the imagination of the Translators ; 
who, although they generally indeed follow Griesbach, yet 
occasionally innovate even on his innovations. In the 
course of my reflections I have pointed out many passages 
of considerable length undisputed by him, the authenticity 
of which they represent as extremely dubious. Nor is 
this all. For, completely in the teeth of an intimation 
formally given, that “ the words, which in the judgment 
of Griesbach should probably, though not certainly, be ex¬ 
punged, are included in brackets,”* they sometimes take 
the liberty themselves of expunging words of this descrip¬ 
tion upon the superior decision of their own judgment.f 
Timid, cautious, circumspective, Griesbach weighed over 
and over again, with anxious solicitude, the credit of a 
textual variation, experience having taught him wisdom ; 
for he candidly confesses, that in his first edition he had 
admitted several readings into the text, which in his second, 
he felt himself under the necessity of removing to the 
margin : “ Nonnullas lectiones, quae olim in margine inte- 
riore fuissent repositae, jam, plurium testium auctoritate 
confirmatas, in textum recepi ; sed contra etiam alias, qui- 
bus in textu olim locum suum assignassem, nunc, testibus 
nuper productis nil novi praesidii afferentibus, in marginem 
amandavi.”f But they, less exact and more intrepid, in 
passages where he could only discover the appearance of a 
probable, determine the existence of a certain, omission ; 
and by an easy dash of the pen obliterate them altogether. 

On one occasion indeed they hazard a bolder step ; and, 
where Griesbach adopts, without observation, the common 
reading, they, upon the sole authority of the Cambridge 
manuscript, venture upon a little interpolation, which di¬ 
rectly converts an affirmative into a negative sentence. 

* Explanation of remarks, introd. p. 33. 

f See Mark ii. 26, v, 15 ; Luke ix. 56. 

+ Prolegomena, p. 86. 


606 Critical remarks on the 

It is recorded of St. John, who visited, with St. Peter, the 
sepulchre of our Lord, when Mary Magdalene had com¬ 
municated to them her suspicions respecting the removal 
of the body, that, after he had inspected the sepulchre, 
“he saw and believed.” Now this passage, in direct con¬ 
tradiction to every other manuscript, they render, “ he 
saw and believed not,” adding the following note from 
Newcome ; ix So the Cambridge MS. in the Greek, but 
not in the Latin, translation of it. The following verse 
assigns a reason for the unbelief of St. John and St. 
Peter.” The precise value of this sort of half authority, 
contradicted by its other half, for the manuscript in ques¬ 
tion contains a Latin, as well as a Greek text, it is for them 
to calculate and explain ; but as the consistency of the 
narrative is urged by way of proving the necessity of their 
interpolation, I cannot help remarking, that the common 
sense of the context, by which alone, I apprehend, the 
Consistency of the narrative can be preserved, requires no 
such addition. The point applicable to the credence of 
the Apostle was, not the resurrection of our Saviour, for 
nothing upon that head had yet been surmised, but evident¬ 
ly the report of Mary Magdalene, that the body had been 
stolen aivay. When therefore St. John was informed of 
the circumstance, and, examining the sepulchre, perceived 
the linen clothes, which had wrapped the body, lying on 
the ground, and the napkin, which had been bound about 
the head, folded together in a place by itself, can we pos¬ 
sibly conjecture that he believed not ? 

Upon the whole then, it is, I presume, incontrovertible, 
that they have not uniformly adhered to the text of Gries- 
bach. I do not indeed dispute their right to deviate from 
the judgment of that, or any other critic ; but I complain 
of their holding out false colours to the public. If they 
flattered themselves that they possessed talants capable of 
improving “ the most correct text of the original which has 
hitherto been published,” they were doubtless at liberty to 


UNITARIAN VERSION OF THE N. T. GO'/ 

have made the experiment ; but they should have under- 
taken the task openly and undisguisedly. Were they ap¬ 
prehensive, that in such a case their competency might 
have been questioned, and their presumption censured ? 

Nor can I take a final leave of the subject, without again 
alluding to another deception practised upon the general 
reader. From the style of the title-page, the prolegome- 
nal parade of the introduction, and the perpetual attempt 
at manuscript erudition in the notes, he is naturally indu¬ 
ced to consider the Version as one conducted upon princi¬ 
ples rigidly critical, while, in truth, it is nothing more 
than a mere patchwork translation, solely manufactured to 
promote the cause of unitarianism. When a passage oc¬ 
curs, which in its obvious sense threatens fatality to the 
Unitarian Creed, its sting is instantly and ingeniously ex¬ 
tracted ; what exposition the language of Scripture can , 
not what it ought to bear, becomes the object of investi¬ 
gation ; and the context is twisted into subserviency to the 
gloss, and not the gloss made consistent with the context. 
The Translators indeed unreservedly confess, that they 
have studied “to preclude many sources of error, by di¬ 
vesting the sacred volume of the technical phrases of a 
systematic theology but they forget to add, that it was 
only in order to supersede one system by another. If a 
clause admits the slightest pliability of meaning, every 
nerve is strained to give it a peculiar direction. Instead of 
enquiring, with Christian simplicity, what really are, they 
presume with philosophical arrogance upon what must he, 
the doctrines of Scripture ; and substitute the deductions 
of reason for the dictates of revelation. Averse from es¬ 
tablished opinion, fond of novelty, and vain of singularity 
they pride themselves upon a sort of mental insulation, 
and become captivated at every magic touch with the efflu¬ 
ent brilliance of their own intellect. The profound re¬ 
searches of the most distinguished commentators and phi¬ 
lologists they either slight or despise, unless convertible by 


608 


CRITICAL REFLECTIONS, &C. 


a little dexterity of application to the aggrandisement of 
some favourite theory ; and satiate us with the flimsy re¬ 
finements and loose lucubrations of Lindsey, or of Priest- 
ly. Immoderately attached to particular doctrines, and 
deeply prejudiced against all others, they modify every 
expression in the text, and every exposition in the notes, 
to a sense sometimes directly favourable, but never even 
indirectly unfavourable, to Unitarianism ; so that in reality, 
always indifferent, though apparently sometimes anxious, 
respecting the true philological import of scriptural lan¬ 
guage, and ever restless with the gad-fly of theological con¬ 
ceit, they prove themselves to be wholly incapacitated, 
from a defect, if not of talent, certainly of temper, for 
the patient task of critical rumination. 



































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